Man using e-cigarette

Vaping at Work

When vaping products were first launched in 2004, they were marketed as effective tools to help people quit smoking. However, by 2008, agencies like the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began challenging these marketing claims. Today, the FDA does not classify vaping products as approved smoking cessation tools and says they pose health dangers just as serious as cigarettes.

While just 3.2% of U.S. adults vaped in 2018, according to the recently released Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking Cessation, new research shows that vaping in the workplace is a larger issue than employers realize, and it has more to do with those who do not even vape. The Innovations Center within Truth Initiative, a nonprofit tobacco control organization, found surprising information when it surveyed 1,620 U.S. employed adults:

  • Nearly two-thirds of respondents said vaping in the workplace bothered them. Non-vapers are more bothered than vapers, with 69% of non-vapers saying vaping in the workplace bothered them versus 40% of vapers.
  • 72% of respondents said they “sometimes” or “often” see vapor clouds from vapes or e-cigarettes at work.
  • Over 40% of respondents said they “sometimes” or “often” see coworkers vaping near their workspace.

In November of last year, the CDC received more than 2,000 reports from 49 states of lung injuries due to vaping, and well as 36 confirmed vaping-related deaths. In the same month, the CDC identified vitamin E acetate, a key additive in e-cigarette products, as a likely culprit, though the agency said other chemicals could be involved.

Since vaping is not a healthy habit for the workforce, you may want to address it, as many of you have addressed tobacco use through policies and programs.

To update policies:

  • Have your legal counsel determine what the laws regarding vaping are in your city or state.
  • Review your current tobacco usage policies. If your policy bans smoking or tobacco products, it doesn’t cover e-cigarettes.
  • Using the information you’ve gathered, redraft your policy to include your agreed-upon rules around e-cigarette usage on company property.
  • Once your policy changes have gone through your approval process, make sure you communicate to your employees clearly.

To help your employees who are ready to quit using tobacco, including e-cigarettes and vaping products, promote the Blue Cross Tobacco Coaching program, powered by WebMD®, to them. You can find the toolkit of communication materials at bcbsm.com/engage in the Health and well-being programs folder. For additional resources, please see BCBSM’s help quitting tobacco resource webpage.

Want to learn more about how to expand your company’s tobacco-free policy? Watch this Blue Cross® Virtual Well-Being webinar that defines vaping and provides resources to help you create a policy change. You can also sign up for future employer-focused and general interest webinars here, where you’ll also be able to check out past sessions and resources.

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Photo credit: diego_cervo

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