Not Your Average Workplace Drama: Banning the Use of E-Cigarettes on the Job

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Over the last few years, electronic cigarettes have taken off in popularity. However, recently government agencies such as the FDA have brought rulings about e-cigarette usage that is making it difficult to use them in public and to purchase.

E-cigarettes have been outright banned for use in workplaces, bars, and restaurants in three states — North Dakota, New Jersey, and Utah — and in 172 cities and counties, including Boston and 51 other Massachusetts municipalities. Those living in states and for companies who do not have personal regulations in place are free to vape to their heart’s content.

Several companies have also brought their own rulings to the use of e-cigarettes including:

  • Walmart
    • Requires e-cigarette users to use designated smoking areas
  • Starbucks
    • Forbids smoking of any kind within 25 feet of its stores
  • McDonald’s
    • Has banned the use of e-cigarettes at company-owned restaurants
    • Allows franchise owners to make their own rules about e-cigarettes
  • CVS
    • Doesn’t allow smoking anywhere on their corporate campuses
    • Also has a no-tolerance policy
  • UPS
    • Does not allow usage on their premises. In addition, they also charge their nonunion workers a $150 monthly insurance premium. This is the same amount they charge regular smokers. The Affordable Care Act allows employers to charge smoking employees up to 50% more for health coverage.

Modern Healthcare provides more information about employers penalizing employees for e-cigarette usage.

What should companies do about e-cigarettes?

Some experts advise businesses to ban e-cigarettes as part of their typical non-smoking policies. One such expert, Karyn Rhodes (a human resources consultant) states that “anything that could potentially harm other employees, we tend to side on the more cautious”. I feel, however, that this is simply a move to have a position in place for a worst case-scenario situation.

Nevertheless, companies should plan for whatever stance they want to take on e-cigarettes—even if you plan to allow the use of e-cigarettes. These kind of policies (including when, where, and if vaping is allowed) should be activated before employees start pushing any sort of company boundaries.

Do the benefits of vaping outweigh the risks? Some companies think so

Some employers see advantages in e-cigarettes. A number of business owners have noticed an increase in productivity by allowing those employees who wish to vape in the office (unless a customer is present). Their productivity level increases because they are not torn away from their desks in order to fulfill their nicotine cravings. Being able to vape at their desk allows them to return to their task much more quickly after taking a puff.

If vapers are forced to go outside with traditional smokers, it could (if they are still struggling with cravings for tobacco cigarettes) entice them to return to tobacco cigarettes

Since there is so much talk about where vapers can use (or not as the case may be) electronic cigarettes, it is important to think about whether the workplace is a viable option for you to vape in. Make sure that you check with your employer to see if there are any regulations in place before powering up your e-cigarette on the job. Eversmoke can provide you with starter kits and other electronic cigarette accessories.

In addition, you can also find further information about e-cigarettes by browsing our blog and knowledge center.

We also invite you to check out our knowledge center article – E-Cigarettes and Productivity in the Workplace – for general information about vaping in the workplace, and how employers can establish a policy that’s fair to everyone.