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E-cigarettes: A burning new HR issue

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Sooner or later, one of your employees is going to “power up” an e-cigarette in your workplace. These trendy, battery-powered devices give the user a sense of smoking by inhaling a nicotine mist. No smoke is dispersed, only vapor.

So, is this truly considered “smoking” and can you set a company policy? According to Cleveland-based employment law attorney John Hyman, “There are no laws requiring that you allow e-smoking in your workplace. Laws that prohibit smoking in the workplace are a floor, not a ceiling. You are free to ban these devices in your ­workplace, and should consider doing so.”

Because e-cigarettes do not con­­tain tobacco, they are not pro­­hibited by state and local laws banning smoking in the workplace or public buildings. Pro­­po­­nents of e-cigarettes argue that allowing ­workers to e-smoke in the workplace will improve employee productivity by eliminating the need for smoke breaks.

Advice: The National Business Group on Health suggests workplaces give these butts the boot. Reason: Nicotine is addictive in any form. E-cigarettes look similar to regular cigarettes, making it harder for employers to monitor cigarette use. And the vapor could be an annoyance to nonsmoking employees.

If you decide to stamp out “vaping” in your workplace, re­­vise your tobacco-free policy to indicate that smoking in any form through the use of tobacco products (pipes, cigars and cigarettes) or “vaping” with e-cigarettes is prohibited.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rabbit November 7, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Many companies are taking this lazy path. “We don’t understand it, so we’re banning it.” Typical corporate shortcutting.


Amber October 17, 2013 at 6:49 am

Great advice


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