E-Cigarettes In The Workplace May Improve Productivity

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Vape E-cigarette at work

With Mad Men all the rage our nostalgia has run rampant with the fantasy of the days everyone could smoke in the office. Perhaps we are also grateful for workplace policies that mean we don’t have to walk through a film of smoke to get anything done.

E-cigarettes are creating a challenge to policies and raising some questions. E-cigarettes don’t emit smoke like traditional cigarettes. A vapor cloud in pleasant scents is what you get from an e-cigarette, so should they be managed the same as traditional tobacco products?

The Case For E-Cigarettes

Proponents of e-cigarettes in the workplace cite productivity as a significant value. Studies show employee smoke breaks

  • Cost private employers about $3,077 a year per smoking employee
  • Average five breaks per smoking employee
  • Add up to over four hours per week lost

That is four hours a week of work not being done but being paid for. If workplaces allowed e-cigarettes on site there would be no time taken with smoke breaks. It could even be argued work quality itself would improve as smokers would not be preoccupied with watching the clock and anxiously waiting for their next break, not to mention the time it takes employees to get back to actively working once they return from a break.

What Opponents Have to Say

Naturally there are opponents who argue smoking is smoking and should not be encouraged by an employer under any circumstances. Some industries have to err on the side of caution due to concerns about professional appearance or customer confusion. For example, employees of transit companies are forbidden to use e-cigarettes because customers may not recognize they are e-cigarettes and complain or think it gives license to smoke regular cigarettes. Restaurants and others in the hospitality industry will also have to grapple with the question of customer response to seeing employees seeming to leisurely smoke on the job.

How Businesses Are Creating Policy

Some businesses have maintained a strict policy against all smoking across the board, citing health concerns and making no distinction between types of smoking. Other employers have tried out allowing e-cigarettes and say it has noticeably reduced break times and increased productivity. Most employers haven’t addressed the issue at all but won’t be able to avoid it much longer.

When considering policy employers should look at local laws, employee needs and preferences and educate themselves about e-cigarettes and how they may impact productivity.

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  • Ali Esmaili
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