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E Cigarettes In The Workplace?
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Should e cigarettes be allowed in the workplace?

I remember a time when we used to smoke in our workplace. A long time ago I was sent to the Netherlands on a business trip. When I arrived in our Amsterdam offices I was happy to see that people could still smoke at their desk. This is something I had never experienced before and as a smoker I was looking forward to my first fag at my desk. The ban in Ireland had not been introduced yet but we were only allowed to smoke outside in designated areas. I changed my mind very quickly. While I used to have 3 to 5 cigarettes per day, I saw my intake increase to 15 very quickly. Worse, some of my colleagues smoked non stop. The air in the office was stale, my hair and my clothes smelled and I felt I could not breath properly. I was looking forward to my lunch break to get some fresh air. Thankfully my stay was a short one and I went back to my 3 -5 per day easily once I was back home.

Now with the introduction of e cigarettes to our lifestyle, should we welcome e cigarettes in our workplace?

Some companies in America have already made the decision to go ahead with it and have found that their staff became more productive and were cutting down on their break. When we know that over 100 working hours are spent on smoking breaks in the UK each year, it does give food for thoughts. Smokers cravings can be satisfied with one or two puffs and they can put their e cigarette away when not in use. E cigarettes do not pollute, they only create vaper. There is no ash or cigarette butts and the e cigarettes themselves can be recycled. Of course there is no smell either so it would not disrupt other workers. Some people also say that they should be considered the same as a nicotine patch which is accepted in work. Yes nicotine is addictive but so is caffeine. Employees and customers alike could feel discriminated against if not allowed to vape. If companies implement a ban without knowing what decision governments are going to make on e cigarettes, they could come across as showing a vote of no confidence towards their employees. It could also be perceived as a sign of disrespect and an infringement on their freedom.

On the other hand a lot of people and companies are raising their voice against having e cigarettes in the workplace and these include e cigarette smokers. Vaping at your desk may increase productivity but it will certainly decrease the amount of breaks taken by employees. While this sounds good for companies on the short term, it may not be a good idea on the long term if employees burn out from longer hours at their desk. E cigarettes do produce smoke. As stated earlier this is only vapor but it could make some people feel uncomfortable. E cigarettes hold a strong association with smoking and this may send the wrong signal to clients or the way it is perceived by the public in general. Having e- smokers in the workplace can look negatively on a company. Imagine going for an interview and being welcome by a secretary with an e cigarette in their mouth.

Overall, we are still unsure of the side effects for the smokers and their entourage but we do know that the workplace has a duty of care towards all their employees. So their decision should be based on this premise before anything else.


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