E-Cigarettes – Can Employees Now Smoke Indoors?
More and more people are turning to e-cigarettes with the aim to quit smoking. But can Employees Now Smoke Indoors?
An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that converts liquid nicotine into a mist, or vapor, that the user inhales. In the UK, 25% of all quit attempts are made using e-cigarettes, making it the most popular quitting aid.
The current debate is that should an employer now allow employees to use an e-cigarette or “vaping” as it’s sometimes called, in the workplace but many argue how this fits in with anti-smoking laws and non-smoking policies. Manufacturers and e-cigarette users argue that because the vapor presents no health risks and no offensive odor, e-cigarettes should be permitted everywhere. Legislation defines smoking as “smoking tobacco or anything containing tobacco” and that smoking includes “being in possession of lit tobacco or of anything lit which contains tobacco or being in possession of any other lit substance in a form in which it can be smoked”, “The e-cigarette is missing the essential ingredient of lit tobacco therefore falls outside of the legal definition of smoking”.
On the other hand, are non-smoking employees going to object to working in the same environment as employees using e-cigarettes due to the smoke like mist that they emit? Some argue the smoke they emit does smell and to date it’s not factually known if inhaling this mist can cause risks to health.
Employers should already have non smoking policies in place and can continue to implement these policies however they may require revision to accommodate the use of e-cigarettes to prevent any confusion and conflict. Regulations will continue to develop as electronic cigarettes grow in popularity and experts seek to gain reliable information about them. The FDA would like to regulate them as medical products. In the meantime as there are no proven, scientific health risks or benefits with e-cigarettes yet released it is suggested employers should take a cautious approach and maintain a smoking ban in the workplace.
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