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Electronic Cigarette Use In The Workplace

E-Cigarettes FDA harm reduction regulation smoke-free alternative to cigarettes

In just a short period of time, electronic cigarettes have become a $2 billion dollar industry that is largely unregulated. Last month, the FDA began the process of proposing new regulations for the e-cigarette industry, extending its authority from tobacco leaf cigarettes to these new devices. With vapor cigarette usage growing in popularity among employees, many of whom believe that e-liquid vapor does not carry the same danger of indoor second-hand smoke from traditional cigarettes, some business managers are making their own determinations about allowing employees to use elecronic cigarette devices in the workplace.

One example cited by the NBC news business report exploring this phenomenon is the case of Cheryl Dooley, CEO of the Ebsco Spring Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who used a nicotine vaporizer to help her quit smoking after a blood clot formed in her lungs. Dooley was so grateful for the electronic cigarette technology that helped her kick her 40-year, one to two pack per day smoking habit that she provided $100 e-cigarette devices for her 28 smoker employees and allows the devices to be used in the company building.

According to the article:
"Every smoker wants to quit," she said, and if she could switch from traditional cigarettes to ones that use a battery-powered atomizer to steam liquid nicotine into an inhalable gas, she wanted her employees to benefit, too. "They're like family to me."

Dooley also went on to say that she has seen an increase in worker productivity which she attributes to employees spending more time at their desks now that the need to visit the company's designated outdoor smoking area has been eliminated.

Laws enacted in ten states and 172 cities and counties nationwide which restrict or prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in certain workplace venues are keeping other employers from promoting similar policies.

Even though ecig vapor is quite different from traditional cigarette smoke, all of the large-scale companies contacted by NBC News for comment in the linked article said that the use of e-cigs was banned in the workplace under their existing tobacco policies. In practice, however, as long as vaping only happens in moderation, most business managers and co-workers don't seem to have the same complaints that are typical with second-hand smoke from traditional analog cigarette smoking on the job. For example, As reported in the NBC News article:

Eric Bowler, a 28-year old software developer in Manassas, Virginia, takes about 10 puffs a day at his desk. He exhales it into a small desk fan to dissipate the vapor so it doesn't bother his co-worker, who sits at a desk 4 feet away.

"Only one boss ever saw vapor coming out of my mouth. He said, 'Whoa, what is that?' I said, 'Just vapor.' He chuckled and smirked and walked away."

The article points out from several other sources that employees who are allowed to vape are less fidgety, more productive, spend more time at their desks, and do not offend their co-workers with their post-cigarette, ashtray odor.

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