What are electronic cigarettes?
“E-cigarettes,” are battery operated devices made to look like conventional cigarettes. The user fills a reservoir with a nicotine liquid, puffs or “lights” the E-Cig, and heating elements heat and release a nicotine liquid that is inhaled and a vapor is then released. An electronic light at the tip makes it appear similar to a burning cigarette. Users of E-Cigs consider themselves “Vaping”, not smoking.
Why would an employer consider banning e-cigarettes from the workplace?
Here’s some interesting issues being discussed:
– E-cigarettes look very similar to regular cigarettes, so employers may find it hard to distinguish between the two causing a potential confrontation.
– The vapor coming from e-cigarettes might be an annoyance to non-smokers.
– Permitting employees to smoke e-cigarettes in buildings where smoking is not allowed may prompt non-smoking employees question why they cannot smoke.
– Several states ban the use of electronic cigarettes
The confusion over whether the practice is considered smoking is abundant. The Department of Transportation mentioned that E-Cigs were covered under the no smoking rules saying, “Airline passengers have rights, and this new rule would enhance passenger comfort and reduce any confusion surrounding the use of electronic cigarettes in flight.” Many property owners are concerned about the “perception” it may give to others in the building including tenant and visitors. Seeing someone using an E-Cig from a distance might not know the difference between and E-Cig and a real cigarette.
What can employers do about e-cigarettes?
1. Employers are reviewing e-cigarettes in their workplaces. Federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Air Force have banned the use of e-cigarettes based on the Surgeon General’s report in 2010 classifying e-cigarettes as “tobacco products.”
2. Companies should revise tobacco-free policies in the workplace to include e-cigarettes as a form of tobacco. They should indicate that “vaping” with e-cigarettes is prohibited. Also, e-cigarettes are not FDA-approved cessation products so employees using e-cigarettes are still considered smokers.
3. Inquire if the use of e-cigarettes is allowed in your jurisdictions, including the workplace.
4. Building managers and landlords may be able regulate the use of E-Cigs on their property.