E-cigarettes in the workplace should it be allowed?
Use of E-cigarettes in the Workplace Sparks Controversy
The latest news about e-cigarettes that have sparked another controversy is the sacking of an employee because he was caught using an e-cigarette while working. The company and his employer have no established policies on the use of e-cigarettes.
“The waste disposal company Viridor, which had no policy on e-cigarettes, sacked 55-year-old Paul Scott who was using one while he was operating a truck in the compost area of a landfill. Mr. Scott, who had been working for Viridor since 2007, has filed a claim for unfair dismissal. He had been a 20-a-day tobacco smoker for the past 40 years before he turned to e-cigarettes.”
If you are an employer or oversee a handful of employees, now is the time to review and draft a policy regarding the use of e-cigarettes in your workplace.
Advice for Employers: Create a Policy for E-cigarettes
Employment experts have seen the sharp rise of employees using e-cigarettes and this is for good reason. E-cigarettes are not officially labeled as smoking cessation devices but have outnumbered the sales of recognized smoking cessation products like nicotine patches, lozenges and gum. In 2013, its sales closed in to $2 billion, double the amount for 2012. They have become so very popular that experts have predicted that they will surpass the sale of traditional tobacco cigarettes within 10 to 15 years.
Basing on statistics alone, almost every office in the city might just have a handful of vapers, a term coined loosely for those who use e-cigarettes.
E-Cigarettes are Outside the No Smoking Policy
Technically, e-cigarettes are not tobacco cigarettes. They were made to look and feel like tobacco cigarettes but the composition and effects are completely different. Developed by a Chinese pharmacist who lost his father to lung cancer because of smoking, e-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that turn or vaporize a liquid solution (called e-juice) into mist or vapor. This liquid solution contains propylene glycol, nicotine and flavoring. Nicotine is the highly addictive substance found in cigarette smoke, primarily responsible for getting smokers hooked to the bad habit. One of the reasons why e-cigarettes have become so popular and effective in helping smokers kick the habit is because nicotine concentration levels can be gradually weaned from the e-juice solution. Add to the fact the smokers still experience the hand to mouth smoking experience from e-cigarettes and you have a great alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes.
Since we already have established the differences between e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes, it is but normal to have e-cigarettes outside the coverage of any anti-smoking policies and laws mandated by the government, municipalities or private buildings or companies.
‘It seems we all need to update our ‘No Smoking’ signs as well as our policies. Most employers will probably veto allowing employees to use e-cigarettes anyway in the workplace as it creates confusion and sends the wrong signal out to staff. Our advice to employers is to speak to The HR Dept to amend their No Smoking at Work policies to ban the use of e-cigarettes.’
Since e-cigarettes have just been introduced in the market, government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the medical community worldwide have yet to establish a common ground regarding its regulation. There have been reports though that in the UK, electronic cigarettes are going to be licensed as medicine by 2016.
The overwhelming question still remains, “Are e-cigarettes safe?”
Safety is going to be the number one concern for employees in the workplace. But there have been outstanding positive feedback about the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace.
“If all the smokers in Britain stopped smoking cigarettes and started smoking e-cigarettes we would save 5 million deaths in people who are alive today” - Professor John BrittonRoyal College of Physicians
Why Employers Should Allow E-cigarettes to Be Used in the Workplace
As an employer, you can actually count on e-cigarettes to help increase employee productivity, cutting cigarette breaks (which should be taken outside the office).
E-cigarettes are powerful effective smoking cessation devices, helping smokers to quit and essentially letting you save employer healthcare costs (and absenteeism).
Regulation of e-cigarettes have yet to be decided on so as employers, you should be guided and act accordingly.