Hawaii to Ban Electronic Cigarettes in Enclosed Workplaces

Author: Ashley Shaw, XpertHR Legal Editor

May 7, 2015

Hawaii recently passed a law that will add the use of electronic smoking devices, such as electronic cigarettes, to its prohibition against smoking in enclosed or partially enclosed workplaces. The law also bans the use of the devices 20 feet from any window, ventilation intake, or entrance to a workplace. All employers in the state should evaluate their smoking policies before the amendment's implementation date of January 1, 2016 to ensure that the policy is up-to-date with the new requirements.

The new Hawaii law defines the following as an electronic smoking device that will be banned from use in enclosed areas:

  • Electronic cigarette;
  • Electronic cigar;
  • Electronic cigarillo;
  • Electronic pipe;
  • Hookah pipe;
  • Hookah pen; or
  • Any device, such as a cartridge, that is needed to operate the device.

The definition includes any electronic product that can be used to deliver and/or aerosolize nicotine or similar components to the person inhaling the contents of the device.

While the health effects of electronic cigarettes have not been studied fully, there is some debate as to whether electronic cigarettes are safer than cigarettes. In the absence of clear scientific data, many employers and local jurisdictions are taking proactive steps by banning electronic cigarettes in enclosed areas.

Hawaii joins two other states, New Jersey and North Dakota, and several municipalities throughout the country in banning electronic cigarettes in places where smoking has already been banned. Several other states currently ban electronic cigarettes in certain areas, such as public buildings or in areas of mass transit.

Although the new law will be effective on January 1, 2016, an employer may begin banning these devices before that date if it so chooses.