The use of e-cigarettes (i.e., electronic, vapor-based cigarettes that are sometimes called e-cigs) is growing in the US. However, scientific research has not fully determined the health effects, if any, of these devices. This leaves an employer with a tough decision as to how it should address e-cigarette use, if at all. For example, should an employer include these devices in its current smoke-free policy? Should it allow employees to freely smoke these devices in the workplace?
An employer should consider various factors in making this decision. These include state and municipal regulations on the subject (currently there are no federal laws on e-cigarettes, though a court case granted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the right to regulate them as a tobacco product); effects on employee productivity - if workers were allowed to use e-cigs while working, they would likely take less smoke breaks; and other employees' potential health concerns and intolerances based on unpleasant workplace smells.
Using XpertHR's various Tools and resources can help an employer decide how to handle e-cigarettes in the workplace.
Employment Law Manual
Policies and Documents
- Acceptable Use of Electronic Cigarettes Policy
- Employee Smoking Policy
- Allergies and Sensitivities in the Workplace Policy
Quick Reference Chart
- What are e-cigarettes?
- What is vaping?
- Do e-cigarettes contain nicotine?
- Are e-cigarettes considered a tobacco product?
- Are e-cigarettes an effective smoking cessation tool?
- Is secondhand vapor from an e-cigarette unhealthy?
Considerations of E-Cigarettes in the Workplace
- What are the pros and cons of allowing e-cigarettes in the workplace?
- Do e-cigarettes cause any smells that might affect other employees in the workplace?
- If an employee gets sick from secondhand vapor from an e-cigarette and the employer permits vaping in the workplace, could the sickened employee successfully sue or get workers' compensation from the illness?
- Does an employer need to implement a workplace e-cigarette policy?
- Are there liability risks for an employer in allowing the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace?
- Are there any liability risks for an employer in allowing the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace?
- Is e-cigarette use protected by state laws prohibiting discrimination against employees for engaging in legal off duty activities?
- If an employer has a policy allowing vaping in the workplace and not smoking, how should it address smokers' complaints that the policy is unfair?
- May an employer ban e-cigarettes and vaping in the workplace?
- May an employer treat e-cigarette use like regular cigarette smoking?
- Is an employer required to reasonably accommodate an employee who claims to be addicted to nicotine by allowing the employee to vape at work?