In the workplace, vaping at your desk is frowned upon for several reasons. One possible reason is that the smoke brings some discomfort to non-smokers. Another reason is that people often misunderstood how vaping works and how much safer it actually is compared to the use of nicotine-heavy electronic cigarettes that closely mimic the experience of smoking real tobacco.
Marina A. Galatro, a senior human resources consultant for Willis Human Capital Practice in La Jolla, and Todd R. Wulffson, a business and labor expert who works with Carothers, DiSante and Freudenberger in Irvine, brought up the following concerns about implementing an anti-vaping workplace policy in their talk with The Press Enterprise:
• Many use the devices to quit cigarette smoking by using liquids with decreasing amounts of nicotine. So should a vape pen user be in the same designated place as cigarette smokers for a permissible break?
• What’s in that vape pen tank? “It could be anything. … We don’t want to police every puff on the e-cig,” Wulffson said.
• And not everyone in the office may be comfortable with the residual odor of flavored e-cigarette liquids, possibly raising allergy complaints.
The points they raised deserve a closer look because the answers can shed some light into the real benefits of vaping and why it’s not the same as puffing on burning tobacco.
The two experts are right in questioning the wisdom of pushing vaping practitioners to mingle with cigarette smokers considering that most of them turned to e-liquid vaporizers because they’re determined to quit their nicotine addiction. Exposure to secondhand smoke from burned tobacco doesn’t help their case, and may even encourage them to toe the line between analog cigarette use and e-liquid vaporizer patronage.
Rather than feel threatened at the illusory thickness of the smoke coming from the battery-powered atomizer, employers are better off helping their employees to overcome the difficulties of quitting the habit.
According to a research paper published in the June 2014 edition of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vaping not only provides an alternative solution to nicotine patches and nasal sprays that mostly lead to failure, it also reduces the costs of maintaining a corporate health program for employees.
Currently recommended pharmaceutical smoking cessation protocols fail in about 90% of smokers who use them as directed, even under the best of study conditions, when results are measured at six to twelve months. E-cigarettes have not been attractive to non-smoking teens or adults. Limited numbers non-smokers have experimented with them, but hardly any have continued their use. The vast majority of e-cigarette use is by current smokers using them to cut down or quit cigarettes. E-cigarettes, even when used in no-smoking areas, pose no discernible risk to bystanders. Finally, addition of a THR component to current tobacco control programming will likely reduce costs by reducing the need for counseling and drugs.
The moisture-laden smoke that vapers exhale doesn’t smell as bad as ordinary cigarette smoke. It’s actually produced by heating up the e-juice rather than burning chopped up pieces of dried tobacco leaves. According to this Gizmodo article, the base ingredient is certified organic vegetable glycerin, which creates a lot of smoke without the health risks attached to cigarette consumption.
So, what’s an employer to do? Provide a separate area for vapers, such as a small lounge where they can go to socialize with like-minded people. Meanwhile, smokers can be with their fellow tobacco lovers in another part of the building, preferably outside where the odor of burning tobacco and tar can quickly dissipate. In addition, vapers may want to take other options of inhaling atomized nicotine liquids, such as using a vaporless e-liquid.