What's Your Company Policy on E-Cigarettes?

Survey Highlights Need for Clear Policies on 'Vaping' vs Smoking

As e-cigarettes continue to increase in popularity, employees are unclear on whether their employers have any company policy on ""vaping"" — or whether that policy is different for vaping versus tobacco smoking, reports a survey study in the April Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Having clear policies on vaping is especially important given the growing body of evidence that e-cigarettes are ""far less harmful"" than smoking and might be a useful aid to smoking cessation, according to the report by Xiaochuan Song and colleagues of The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

The researchers performed an internet survey to assess employees' perceptions of their company's smoking and vaping policies. The study included responses from 456 employed smokers and/or vapers.

In general, the respondents reported their companies had the same policy for both smoking and vaping. Where there was a difference, employees perceived more restrictive policies regarding smoking than vaping.

But 12.5 percent of respondents were unaware of any company policy related to vaping. Less than 20 percent said their employer offered smoking cessation resources.

Recognizing the high health and economic impact of tobacco, most companies now have policies restricting smoking. In contrast, there is little information about vaping in the workplace. E-cigarettes are an attractive alternative for those who want to decrease or even stop smoking, addressing both the biochemical need for nicotine and the behavioral need for puffing.

While further research on vaping in the workplace is needed, the study provides initial information on company policies regarding vaping versus smoking. ""Organizations should not consider smoking and vaping to be the same when setting policy,"" Xiaochuan Song and co-authors conclude. ""Employers should ensure organizational vaping policies are present and clear to all employees.""                                                                      
About the Author — Xiaochuan Song may be contacted for interviews at xsong@crimson.ua.edu.

About ACOEM — The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (www.acoem.org), an international society of 4,500 occupational physicians and other health care professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments.

About JOEM — The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (www.joem.org) is the official journal of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Edited to serve as a guide for physicians, nurses, and researchers, the clinically oriented research articles are an excellent source for new ideas, concepts, techniques, and procedures that can be readily applied in the industrial or commercial employment setting.


Song X, English MTM, Whitman MV. Exploring organizational smoking policies and employee vaping behavior. J Occup Environ Med. 2017;59(4):365-68.