As federal and state regulators consider whether and how to regulate electronic cigarettes, some private employers are considering their own restrictions. A recent NPR article explores this trend.
Some employers are considering whether to ban individual use of e-cigarettes, in the same way that cigarettes are generally banned in the workplace. Those employers are relying on what they believe to be the lack of information regarding e-cigarettes’ health effects as compared to tobacco cigarettes.
What most employers don’t know is that the vapor in e-cigarettes has been studied fairly extensively. And there are no studies showing that the harms of tobacco cigarettes are present in electronic cigarettes. In fact, a recent peer reviewed study indicates that “[c]urrently available evidence indicates that electronic cigarettes are by far a less harmful alternative to smoking and significant health benefits are expected in smokers who switch from tobacco to electronic cigarettes.” Another study found that ingredients in e-cigarettes pose no health issues for users or bystanders. It found that the levels of any e-cigarette contaminants are insignificant, and far below any levels that would pose a health risk.
At the same time, a number of states are considering whether to permit e-cigarette use in places where cigarette smoking is banned. The Virginia Attorney General has already concluded that e-cigarettes are not subject to the Commonwealth’s public smoking ban. The Wisconsin legislature is considering a bill that would expressly exempt e-cigarettes from the public smoking ban.