Vaping has become incredibly popular. E-cigarettes – the battery-powered devices that replicate smoking by vaporizing a liquid that contains nicotine – are not classified the same ways as traditional cigarettes and cigars. As a result, many company policies regarding smoking don’t automatically apply to e-cigarette use.
Plus, there is still a lot of confusion regarding the effects of vaping. While it is usually considered safer than traditional smoking, e-cigarette vapor can contain some toxins. Also, it isn’t clear currently if secondhand exposure has health consequences.
While the US Surg
eon General has deemed e-cigarettes tobacco products, not all companies have policies that ban their use on-premises, even if they have strict smoking restrictions. Ultimately, it is in each employer’s hands when it comes to determining what policies are necessary. If you do not have a policy in place that dictates allowed use of e-cigarettes like JUULs, here are some points to consider.
Adjust Your Smoking Policy
At times, the easiest thing to do is list e-cigarettes in your current tobacco policy. Then, the devices would be governed by the same guidelines that discuss where smoking is or is not allowed. Just be aware that you may need verbiage that covers e-cigarettes that don’t contain nicotine if you want to be thorough, as not all of the liquids contain nicotine.
State and Federal Law
The federal government has increasingly been regulating e-cigarettes, and additional guidelines are currently in development. Additionally, many states have taken action regarding vaping, at times putting in place laws and rules that can limit where e-cigarettes can be used.
If you need to develop an e-cigarette policy, your first step should be to review any federal and state laws that are in place. Additionally, it’s wise to research any potential upcoming legislation. That way, you can create a policy that aligns with the laws and regulations in your area.
In cases where federal or state law doesn’t require a specific approach on an employer’s part, you may need to factor in employee sentiment when creating a policy. Some proponents of e-cigarettes are quick to point out that there are no known health risks associated with secondhand exposure, though this is primarily due to the limited amount of research that has thus far been conducted since the products are relatively new.
Additionally, many advocates will assert that e-cigarettes can lead to higher productivity. Since workers would not need to leave their workspaces, as they would with traditional cigarettes, they are eliminating the need for those breaks.
Some e-cigarette users may simply resent any change that requires them to act differently. Further, since some people who vape use the devices to assist with smoking cessation, they may not be keen to join smokers in a smoking area, as this could make it harder to quit.
However, there is a counter viewpoint that also needs to be considered. Since the health impacts are largely unknown, many employees who don’t smoke or vape may not appreciate being exposed to e-cigarette vapor in the workplace. Additionally, how vaping looks may be disruptive or unsettling to others, as the clouds can be highly visible and may waft into nearby workspaces. As a result, some employees may resent it if vaping is allowed inside buildings, near entrances, or in other public spaces that are not currently designated smoking areas.
Ultimately, it is wise to develop a formal policy regarding the use of e-cigarettes. However, barring laws and regulations that must be followed, how a company shapes its policy is mainly in their hands.
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