NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The burning question for many employees who have switched to vaping their electronic cigarettes is whether their boss will allow them to “light up” while they work in their cubicles.
As more people start using e-cigs at work, more employers will be grappling with how to deal with the growing trend of vaping e-cigarettes, whether they should be allowed on the premises and how to address the health concerns of other workers.
While a few smaller employers are more lenient in allowing smoky things at the office, it is still “very rare to be able to smoke at work,” said Lawrence Lee, a partner in Denver with Fisher & Phillips, a labor and employment defense law firm. Employers can classify e-cigarettes in the same category as cigarettes.
E-cigarettes don’t really “combust” in the way that other tobacco products do, said Dorothy Miraglia, executive vice president of Engage Insurance, a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based professional employer organization providing human resources outsourcing solutions to small and mid-sized businesses.
“The reason behind this is because they consider the water-vapor devices that make up the e-cigarette to be ‘tobacco’ products,” she said. “There is no real evidence today associated with health outcomes related to e-cigarette use.”
The industry now generates $2.5 billion in revenue, and sales are estimated to continue to rise as puffing away on an e-cigarette is becoming increasingly popular. Since the battery-powered e-cigarettes only simulate cigarette smoke by creating a smoke-like vapor that contains nicotine and other flavors, but not tobacco, they are not being regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. They also lack other unhealthy ingredients found in cigarettes such as tar and various chemicals. The FDA regulates regular cigarettes and cigars currently and issued a proposed rule that would classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease, cancer and stroke are the three top causes of death in the United States, and the vast majority of these cases are attributable to tobacco use, Miraglia said.