Your employee is giving up cigarettes congratulations! Instead, the employee has taken up electronic or vapor-based smoking. Should they be allowed to use e-cigarettes in the workplace or at their desks?
The short answer is: it depends on state regulations and your company's smoking policy.
Whether we agree with the device and its effectiveness at smoking cessation is moot in this scenario. Our focus is not pro-vape or anti-vape, but rather how to deal with its use in the workplace.
Though models vary, the e-cigarette is an electronic device that vaporizes a solution that may contain nicotine, flavoring, and other chemicals into an aerosol mist and simulates the act of smoking, commonly referred to as vaping. Since e-cigarettes are unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unless they're specifically marketed for therapeutic purposes, ingredients vary from one maker to the next.
Because e-cigarettes are a relatively new invention, long-term health effects are unknown at this time and hotly debated among health professionals and those in the vaping industry, including whether or how much the vapor adversely affects surrounding people.
While the user may be thankful for the e-cigarettes helpfulness with smoking cessation and think vaping at the desk can help with productivity that would have been lost from taking a smoke break, surrounding coworkers may not appreciate being subjected to the vapor and any potential health effects.
Its new enough that there also arent precedent-setting court cases yet on how to handle vaping at work. Some states, including North Dakota, New Jersey, and Utah, have banned the use of e-cigarettes in public places, but otherwise, it's largely up to the individual business to determine whether or not they want to allow it.
Taking the same approach to e-cigarettes as you do regular cigarettes in your company's policy is a useful and consistent approach.
If the company has a smoke-free workplace, for example, e-cigarettes should not be used indoors, either. Designated places for smoking cigarettes would become the designated space for vaping as well.
For human resource guidance in creating the fine points of your company's workplace policies, please contact Nextep's HR department.