Vaping in the Workplace
I’m lucky enough to enjoy a luxury that many employees in the U.S. can’t: Vaping in the workplace…right at my desk. Back when I smoked cigarettes, I got up from my desk every couple of hours and went outside for a cigarette break, even when it was freezing outside and my frozen fingers could barely hold a cigarette. If I didn’t have time to take a cigarette break, I’d find myself distracted, fidgety, and more likely to fall into an internet rabbit hole doing a quiz to find out which character I am from Game of Thrones. Needless to say, smoke breaks inhibited my productivity, and being distracted about cigarettes inhibited it even further. Throughout the United States, employers treat vaping as though it’s the same as smoking. Once again, Public Health England is leaps and bounds ahead of the United States by telling employers they should permit workplace vaping.
In 2014, Forbes published an article about workplace vaping after WalMart, Home Depot, and other big-name employers banned vaping in the workplace because company reps lumped e-cigs in with tobacco products because e liquid contain tobacco-derived nicotine. At the same time, WalMart issues nicotine patches to employees to help with smoking cessation, and employees are permitted to use nicotine gum on-site. This says a lot about the preferential treatment given to Big Pharma’s smoking cessation tools, many of which have been said to be ineffective and even dangerous for users.
Everyone who uses e-cigs should be allowed fresh air. Some companies that don’t allow their employees to vape inside are going to make vapers go outside and stand in the same area as the smokers. That’s not fair to vapers to make them breathe in the cigarette smoke that they’ve worked so hard to get away from.
Of course, the local government will make the initial call to whether vaping is allowed at your workplace, and I don’t need to ask a magic 8-ball to know that the outlook isn’t good. Since the FDA has made it clear that they think e liquid IS tobacco, more and more cities and states have been inclined to treat it just like tobacco.
For the time being, many offices are cool with their employees vaping. Still others have adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. As long as their co-workers are not bothered by them vaping, then the employer doesn’t mind. It’s unfortunate that vaping has become so villainized that many places are considering banning vaping in public places.
There are many reasons why employers should allow vaping at work. First, it saves time. The process to get a coat, walk outside, vape, come back inside, put away the coat, and get back to work adds up and all of this is lost time.
Secondly, since vaping has become increasingly popular, and many people use e-cigs as an alternative to smoking. If vapor cigarettes are treated the same way analog cigarettes are —and eventually treated even worse— it’s possible many vapers would be forced to turn back to smoking, or to use inferior products from big tobacco.
As I type this, I can see some smokers in the distance outside of their workplace. If vaping were more accepted, they might be able to vape inside without leaving the same lingering stench that cigarette smoke leaves behind.
More employers should be open-minded about vaping in the workplace. They might even find that productivity increases and their employees spend less time looking at memes and more time on ECF.