Should You Allow Vaping at Work? 4 Considerations

As a business owner, it’s crucial that you make strategic decisions about what you will and won’t allow in the workplace. This includes everything from employee dress and unapproved overtime to how and where staff take breaks. It also includes where and if people can smoke or vape on the property.

Unless specifically told otherwise, most people will assume they can smoke or vape anywhere outside the building, and some people will vape in the bathroom. Since vaping doesn’t produce smoke like tobacco cigarettes, many people don’t think it’s a big deal to take some hits indoors. Vaping is a discreet and easy way for people to transition away from smoking, but it can be a nuisance to other people in the workplace.

The main question is whether or not you should allow vaping at work overall, and if you’re trying to come to a conclusion, here are some important points to consider.

1. What is your office setup?

How your office is set up might make a difference in your decision. For example, if you’re renting one unit that is part of a larger complex in the middle of a busy shopping center, letting people vape outside might be fine. If they can go out to the parking lot to vape or sit in their car where they won’t bother anyone, that could work.

However, if the building you rent is more of a campus where the doors lead to an inner courtyard where other people constantly walk around, eat lunch, and socialize, you’re probably better off not allowing vaping. In that case, if someone wants to walk to the parking lot to their car to vape, they can, but in most cases, they won’t have time unless they’re on lunch.

2. Does your lease prohibit smoking?

First things first. Refer to your lease agreement to find out if smoking is even allowed on the property. You might find a no-smoking clause in your lease terms and if so, you may not want to push it and allow vaping, either. Although vapes don’t produce smoke from burning tobacco and paper like cigarettes, they can still damage building interiors and if left plugged in for too long, they can become a fire hazard. If you allow vaping, an employee might plug their vape in to charge it and leave it in the office overnight. If you prohibit vaping, be specific about not allowing vapes to even be charged in the office.

You should also be aware that according to one study, 57.7% of people reported seeing their coworkers vape indoors, including while actively working. If you aren’t going to outright ban vaping, you can expect this to happen in your workplace.

On the other hand, if your lease doesn’t have a no-smoking clause, you have more freedom. However, it’s always best to require people to go outside and follow state and local laws. For example, in some jurisdictions, it’s illegal to smoke and vape within 20-30 feet of any operable window or door. If you choose to allow your employees to vape, create a designated smoking area for everyone that’s out of the way.

Some people say you should provide a separate area for vapers so they don’t have to be around cigarettes and be tempted back into smoking, but it’s up to you how far you want to go to accommodate them. If people can walk out to the sidewalk, that should be sufficient for both smokers and vapers.

3. Some employees might quit

Many people vape because they’re trying to quit smoking cigarettes. If you impose an outright ban on vaping, you might drive some employees to look for another job. For many who struggle with the addiction to smoking, vaping is their only crutch, and it’s not something they can easily give up. They won’t have any other choice but to look for additional employment.

4. Vapers may ask for vaping breaks

If you give smokers additional smoke breaks throughout the day, you’ll probably need to give the same type of breaks to people who vape. You’re not legally required to provide these quick breaks, but employees do appreciate them.

If you allow vaping, be prepared to have more people taking advantage of your “smoke breaks” throughout the day. That’s not a bad thing, but you need to set specific rules regarding how long those breaks can be, how many can be taken in a workday, and under what conditions.

Should you allow vaping? It depends

Whether you allow or ban vaping is a personal choice, but either way, make sure your vaping and smoking policies are clear.

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