Electronic Cigarettes in the Workplace and on the Property

cig2Are Electronic Cigarettes subject to the same smoking policy ban as regular cigarettes?  While no formal conclusions have been drawn yet by the FDA, the debate is certainly underway.

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.

The FDA has not fully studied e-cigarettes to determine whether they are safe or if the vapor releases harmful chemicals. cig1

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.

13 Comments on Electronic Cigarettes in the Workplace and on the Property

  1. I work next to someone who uses a vapor device and yes it does have an odor. Some are more pleasnt that others but when he is out you can tell because the smells are not there. The other thing is that some are sensitive to vapor and it is causing medical conditions. People complain because of their rights but when any item whether it be perfume, candles, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, body lotions etc cause a medical condition in a person then that needs to be addressed. When it medically causes someone to have trouble breathing remember your smoking is not a direct link between life or death but someone being able to breath is.

    • It is no different than boiling water and inhaling the vapor produced. If the fact that it’s not FDA approved is an issue, does it bother you when people drink protein shakes? 99% of them aren’t FDA approved, quit whining, e cigs aren’t harming anyone second hand

  2. I am a smoker of traditional cigarettes as well as e-cigs. I know the smell of a regular cigarette is far more offensive that that of an e-cig, even if the traditional cigarette is smoked outside a trail is brought indoors that is far worse then flavored water vapor. I understand that everyone has their sensitivities but just like at other impasses, a discussion should be had and a compromise met. If is legal and you don’t like it, move away from it.

  3. So you want to ban something for the “smell alone.” Therefore, perfumes, hair spray, breath mints, lotions, BBQ logs, and heaven forbid …your (comment removed) should IMMEDIATELY be banned. This includes the disgusting odor that comes from the new deodorant products, fabric softeners,…..and oh man, scented candles in the workplace.

    Your second argument is that it’s a “nicotine delivery device.” Yes, yes it is…minus all the chemicals, smells, health issues and tar. You argue that “nicotine is BAD for you.” Sure, so is obesity which 62% of Americans are guilty of. The next time you reach for that twinky pal, maybe I should smack it out of your hand….I mean, after all, you shouldn’t be FAT now should you? Its BAD for you is it not? And odor from sweat and obesity is a topic for another discussion.

    You have come with no compelling reason why e-cigs should be banned other than your own personal knee-jerk reactions to something unfamiliar and new. Typical.

  4. The fact that cigarette smoking was banned in so many places due to its harmful health side effects from second hand smoke, at least had a good reason to back it. So as people pushed for smoking to be banned, and forced smokers away, to have less smoking areas, to change this habit, it was acceptable because the reason was ” it’s harmful to others around you”. Now, with the emphasis I see on turning that same segregation onto those who use e-cigs, I definitely see this is simply stereotyping and people being uneducated and closed minded about them, because it looks like a cigarette. My mother , after 45 years of smoking, finally found one thing that allowed her to quit tobacco cigarettes, as those are what have dozens of chemicals that kill, and kill others around them. She went from over 34 deadly chemicals inhaled into her body a day, to water vapor with .8 mg of nicotine. What people are not looking at, is the positive in what these ecig s remove from a smoker from smoking real cigarettes. There are no butts, no discusting smell that lingers ( she can blow it right in my face, and I can assure you it’s nothing at all, unless you are trying to mentally convince yourself its so horrible because you are so against any kind of ” smoking” …. ) , no poisons, tars, tobacco, etc. The bad raves are from people who aren’t worried about banning smoking for health reasons, its because they think the act of smoking in general is degrading or below them. We are talking about removing rights from people who were addicted to something very unhealthy ( not illegal) , and found a healthier way. Let people help themselves. My mom saved her life, and she is not sucking in carbon monoxides, tars, etc.. Good for her! The nicotine vapor is by far less ( practically not at all according to my mothers doctor who I asked these questions) dangerous than second tobacco smoke. It’s in another realm. Those who want to cry about ecig smokers are uneducated on the differences, and are probably the Americans who support not selling soda pops over a certain size 🙂

    Let people who are choosing a healthier way, which is NOT poisoning the air, have a right. I will buy my mom vapor cartridges and let her smoke in my house all day long, and not a single person can smell anything, and every time she smokes one, I breathe a sigh of relief that something was invented that allowed her to put down the cancer poisin tar sticks, and I know for a fact, her choice has made a miracle change in her health. Her doctor also supports the ecig, by the way.

  5. Anyone who believes E-Cig Vapor does not carry an odor is either 1) A smoker who’s since of smell has been tarnished by smoking or 2) Ignorant to the human senses around them. To tell someone they are wrong or can’t smell what they do smell is a ridiculous statement. I’m hyper asthmatic and the SMELL of as well as the chemicals emitted no matter how minuscule the amounts claims to be send me into full Asthma attack and promote a horrible migraine. In the office within my company the smell permeates through the office and ventilation system causing several other associates to have migraines and nausea the same… They should be banned from the office and forced outside and treated under the same policy of all other tobacco or smoking policies. The reactions my associates and myself have are cause for concern in with our health and the lack of full scientific health effects is of major concern as well..

  6. I work next to a e-cig smoker and the smell makes me sick to my stomach and gives me a headache. What about my rights as a co-worker, is this harming my health? Do I have a right to say something, I feel like I would be opening a big can of worms with this topic and possibly risk my job. Not fair, to me smoking is smoking flames or not.

  7. E-cigs should be allowed anywhere because it is NOT SMOKING. Anyone who is against e-cigs does so simply because they feel someone else is getting some perceived benefit, which is ridiculous. Setting aside areas for “vaping” is just plain dumb. The vapor has no odor and no dangers to those around it. It defeats the whole purpose of e-cigs in the workplace which would still take employees away from their desk. Just let people use them at their desk. If they took the stupid little light off the end of the thing and made them look like something other than cigarettes nobody would even know. E-cigs are simply a nicotine delivery system which helps people quit smoking. It’s like a patch or nicotine gum. Non-smokers should celebrate the use of e-cigs by others and support their use in the office. It would make those employees more productive and more healthy, helping reduce insurance premiums all around. I don’t smoke or use e-cigs, but I know people who have quit by using them and they will be allowed in my business. In fact I may even offer to buy them for any employee trying to quit. Get off your high-horses people and recognize e-cigs for what they are: a health improvement tool for smokers. Ban them and you remain part of the smoking problem, not the solution.

  8. I think these devices should be treated no differently from other “smoke-producing” products. The nicotine vapor is no less dangerous than the smoke from a cigarette or cigar. If smoking is banned these device users should be required to use any facility provided for regular tobacco users. Why look for confrontation in the workplace,.

  9. This is an interesting topic. While the basic e-cigarette does indeed resemble a real cigarette, there are other options on the market that resemble a pen. The ingredients in an e-cigarette are propylene glycol, vegetable glycol, varying amounts of nicotine based on what you’ve requested and a flavor of your choice based on ingredients from foods we eat such as cinnamon, or butterscotch. What is emitted is pimarily water, nicotine, propylene glycol and the aroma of the flavor. While the FDA is still reviewing e-cigarettes, the internet is full of articles both for and against their usage. Most report that they either cut down or quit real cigarettes while using and further usage while reducing the amount of nicotene in the liquid has allowed them to quit completely. Nicotene itself does not cause cancer although it does cause hardening of the arteries. The cancer causing agents in cigarettes come from the by-products in the paper, tar and chemicals.

    The topic of allowance in the work place is also many fold and should be weighed by productivity among staff, time away from their desk or work area for breaks, health improvement of the individual, etc. I have seen offices set aside special areas, buildings are allowing e-cigarette usage in certain areas inside the building itself.

    My thought is that if the liquid or e-juice is regulated, tested and approved it is a good option for people who wish to cut down or quit cigarettes. Aside from the health benefit, people should be given credit for attempting to make it work for everyone.

    • Setting up a special area is interesting because it would require essentially two designated areas, one for smokers and a second for the Vapors. I wonder how landlord’s would react to setting aside yet another area for this particualr group?

      • The building I’m located allows people to use theirs in a large, well ventilated entrance near the outside smoking area. Any residual vapor is immediately pulled to the ceiling. So far it seems to work well and has not yet caused any challenges from people walking through, I feel though that the ‘jury is still out’ on this topic.

        • Thanks for the feedback Colleen. It would appear that until the larger multi-building property owners take action or BOMA makes recommendations, the jury will remain out and continue to be decided building by building, office by office.

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