What if your co-worker in the next cubicle lit up a cigarette? What if they turned on an e-cigarette? How would you react – or would you?
With the use of e-cigarettes becoming more and more accepted, it has already become a hot topic in restaurants and other public places. And now it appears to become a hot topic in the workplace. The French government is considering a ban altogether in public places, including workplaces. And several employers in the UK have already made their stand on this topic.
One insurance company placed a ban on e-cigarettes in the workplace of over 5,000 employees a few years back before this subject even became an issue or topic. And some council in the UK are ready to put a legal ban on them as well due to the concern of others in council offices, council vehicles, and other public places.
Smoking of traditional cigarettes is already a ban in most, if not all, public places, which includes the workplace. Included in this bad are hand-rolled cigarettes, manufactured cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. Not like tobacco products, though, e-cigs devices are battery powered and vaporise a solution of nicotine to replicate smoking. There is no tobacco used in e-cigs, they do not put off a smoke and according to current studies and research, they do not pose harm to others.
The Employer’s Dilemma
Now these two sides are putting a dilemma on employers that they never expected. If by law, the use of e-cigs is okay at work, should the employees that vape are treated the same tobacco smokers are? Meaning, they are required to use a designated area for smoking. What is the dilemma you may ask?
Well, vapours argue that since they aren’t actually ‘smoking’, they should have a smoke-free zone to enjoy their vaping and not grouped with those who are smoking actual tobacco. Non-smokers of either e-cigs or tobacco say that vapours need to be included in employer’s smoking ban, regardless what the legislation has in place. But is this being unsupportive of those who have quit smoking tobacco and are using e-cigs instead?
Since smoking bans have been introduced, it has been acknowledged across the board that that smoking and break times are associated with each other, taking away from work time. If more people are vaping, it could lead to more employees taking an excessive amount of vaping breaks should a ban be put in place in the workplace, right?
However, if employers allow vapours to fire it up at their desk, then there is the risk of non-smoking, non-vaping employees complaining. This is especially so for those who are former smokers or are trying to quit without the aid of e-cigarettes.
100% Safety Not Established Yet
There is still the issue that the chemicals used in the liquid for e-cigarettes have been proved to be 100% safe yet as well. In the UK, e-cigs will become licensed as a medicine in 2016 because of the concern with the lack of regulation on e-cigarettes and their liquids.
At this time, it is an employer’s independent decision as to how they will accommodate those employees that vape. They can adopt a supportive side for now, but wider implications are going to have to be addressed as well.