Where there’s smoke… there isn’t necessarily fire.
Does your company have a policy on e-cigarettes? It might be time to create one. E-cigarettes are a fast growing trend, and currently there are no laws regulating their use in the workplace. It is up to the employer to create and enforce a policy which is beneficial to all employees.
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, electronic vaping devises or digital vapor devices as they are sometimes known are battery-powered devices which simulate tobacco smoking. The device contains a heating element which vaporizes a liquid solution of nicotine and flavorings, or sometimes just flavorings. These devices can resemble cigarettes or cigars, or look quite different. They release a vapor that is less harmful than cigarettes but has not been thoroughly researched to know if it is completely safe.
Arguments for allowing employees to use e-cigarettes in a business environment are persuasive.
Some smokers argue that using such devices helps them quit smoking regular cigarettes. Another argument is that e-cigarettes can also reduce time spent away from productive work normally spent taking a smoke break. The vapor they release has been proven to contain drastically fewer carcinogens than regular cigarettes, which in turn, should be harmless in the form of second hand smoke.
However, convincing arguments have also been made against the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace.
With some e-cigarettes it can be very hard to tell by a casual observer, (say a client walking by), that it is a vaporizer and not a real cigarette. The vapor itself is a concern because marijuana or THC can be consumed in the same way. The FDA has conveyed their own concerns about the safety of these devices and the second-hand smoke they emit. Some non-smokers are offended by e-cigarettes and would be prefer not to be exposed to the vapor no matter how safe it is claimed to be. Employers in manufacturing environments may have additional safety concerns for employees that need to use two hands to attend to their duties.
Currently, there are no State or Federal laws regarding the use of e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes and the issues around the topic will likely become more prominent in the near future. It is in the best interest of employers to take action now and create a policy that works for their employees and their business. If you would like to discuss, or need assistance forming a policy, please contact AmeriSource HR Consulting Group.