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.

For questions and/or comments, please contact Bryan Haynes, at 804.697.1420 or by email.