Cigarettes in the workplace are not exactly tolerated. While back in the day they were pretty common in every public place imaginable, it’s a totally different story these days. Lighting up cigarettes anywhere indoors is beyond a social faux pas; it’s completely not acceptable!
To employers, smoking is a liability on more than one level. Smoking employees cost employers more for a variety of reasons, with the main ones being healthcare and money lost on the excessive smoke breaks smokers are prone to taking.
Let’s talk about smoke breaks for a minute. Seemingly small increments of time used, they add up big-time. According to an article on The New York Times blog, an estimated $3,077 are spent by employers on smoke breaks, per employee. The average nonsmoking worker takes approximately 3 breaks a day, while smokers about 5. It’s a lot of money being wasted on what is deemed an unnecessary habit.
The next cost employers see in large numbers are the health costs of smokers, which come out to about $2,056 per smoking employee. Between the health care cost and absenteeism, businesses are much more inclined to hire nonsmokers if they have a choice. Healthier people equate to more productive people.
The one compromise that employers and smoking employees can agree on, however, are electronic cigarettes. They offer a viable alternative to tobacco, and still enable users to have the nicotine they are looking for; in contrast to the unfairness and discrimination of an outright smoking ban.
While e-cigarettes are gaining great acceptance as great alternatives to tobacco for employees, they have not yet won everyone over. There are still many employers who remain doubtful and opt to include electronic cigarettes in their smoking bans.
So how does a business begin to implement electronic cigarette tolerance in the workplace? While there is no getting around the fact that electronic cigarettes can do wonders to improve employee productivity, before it becomes an outright policy, employers should consider a few things.
-Awareness. It’s important to know what electronic cigarettes look like so they are not confused with traditional cigarettes; some versions look exactly like traditional cigarettes.
-Get feedback from all employees, including nonsmokers to see where they stand and how they feel about electronic cigarettes being implemented into the workplace. Awareness involves everyone.
-Understand what the local and state government laws are regarding smoking in the workplace. Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have smoking bans and restrictions in the workplace, and although these do not explicitly apply to electronic cigarettes, all regions are different, and some may have more strict, or less lenient views on electronic cigarettes as a whole.
Strategy is the name of the game when it comes to electronic cigarettes in the workplace. Their acceptance continues to grow, and e-cigarettes are proving to be very beneficial in the business sense. Cigarette smoking is becoming less tolerable, and eliminating smokers from the workforce is really not an option. Alternatives give smokers more ability to be productive and still comfortable, and they give nonsmokers the ability to steer clear of the tobacco. Employers want smoke-free employees who are more productive; e-cigarettes offer compromises in all of these circumstances!