As vaping continues to rise in popularity, a growing number of employers can no longer afford to bury their heads in the sand and hope that this phenomenon simply goes away. Management is now being forced to choose sides in the on-going debate: Should vaping be allowed in the workplace?
On the one hand, allowing the use of vape pens indoors promotes increased employee productivity and better health. Cigarette-smokers-turned-vapers argue that vaping is far less harmful, which results in lower long-term insurance costs, reduced sickness and absenteeism, and more time spent working on job assignments without the need for those hourly outdoor smoke breaks. In many cases, non-vaping co-workers are even supportive of those using vape pens as a means to rid themselves of their nasty addiction tobacco cigarettes.
(Courtesy of The Colombian)
On the other hand, we have entire state governments labeling vaping as a public health threat. California is one such state, and more recently, Oregon’s Clark County is joining the anti-vaping movement. A news story published on The Columbian website on May 29, 2015 warns of a new ordinance that took effect on June 1, restricting the use of vaping devices in public county-wide, especially places of employment. In fact, vaping is not allowed within 25 feet of access doors into the building.
Users of e-cigs and vape pens must now adhere to the same rules as smokers of traditional tobacco cigarettes. Violators of the new legislation may be subject to a $100 fine. And this is a mandatory law, meaning that individual businesses can also be fined if they choose to ignore the new ruling. Even in cases where the entire office staff chooses to support the employee who is trying to quit smoking through vaping, the company still can be held legally liable for allowing indoor vaping.
According to the Clark County ordinance, a growing concern of employers is “What’s in that vape tank anyway?” After all, it is no big secret that many vapers use their devices to ingest cannabis and other perhaps questionable substances. So, employers don’t want the added responsibility of having to police each and every vape pen. And who can blame them, but is forcing employees outdoors to vape really the answer?
This legal debate is likely to continue for quite some time. Vape pens and their related e-juices are currently under review by the FDA for possible government regulation. Until the final decision is announced, there are essentially no official “rules” that employers can go to for guidance on the issue. So companies are forced to come up with their own set of guidelines, and managers usually find it much easier to simply stick to the status quo than to be a true trailblazer.