Vaping in the Workplace: Do You Have a Policy

July 10, 2019
Publication
Inside HR
Handbook

As the use of e-cigarettes grows, employers are faced with a new question: Do you allow vaping in the workplace? While smoking is officially banned from most workplaces, many organizations do not yet have formal policies in place around e-cigarette use.

E-cigarettes (or electronic cigarettes) are any electronic device that can be used to deliver nicotine or other substances to the person inhaling from the device. They come in many shapes and sizes and may look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, or may resemble items such as pens or USB sticks. Using an e-cigarette is commonly called vaping.

According to the CDC, as of September 30, 2018, ten states (California, Delaware, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont), the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have passed comprehensive smoke-free indoor air laws that ban e-cigarettes in any place where smoking is banned. These laws prohibit smoking and the use of e-cigarettes in indoor areas of private worksites, restaurants, and bars.

Other states have passed laws that prohibit smoking (including e-cigarettes) in specific establishments, such as schools, correctional facilities, and sports arenas.

For most states, it’s not clear whether the state’s laws on smoking in indoor workplaces also encompass vaping. However, some cities and local governments have passed laws specifically addressing e-cigarettes the same as traditional cigarettes.

If you’re wondering about the rules in your state around vaping in the workplace, check out this helpful guide from the Public Health Law Center at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, which covers smoke-free restrictions: U.S. E-Cigarette Regulation: A 50-State Review.

If your state does not have specific e-cigarette laws, the option is yours, as an employer, to decide whether to ban vaping at work.

If a workplace vaping policy isn’t something your organization has addressed yet, consider making it a priority for the future. As an employer, you’ll want to consider the pros and cons of e-cigarette use and examine how it fits into your company’s culture and goals.

If you make any changes to your policy, be sure to communicate them clearly and in advance with your employees by updating your employee handbook (if you have one) and by posting and distributing the new policy to employees. Plan to give about three months of advance notice before implementing any new workplace policies.

Source: Brenda Hofmann, Word on Benefits Blog, c2019 by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (www.ifebp.org), Brookfield, WI. Reproduced with permission, all rights reserved.