Cigarettes: A Smoke Screen of Possiblities


Replacing one smoking habit with another may not seem like an improvement, or a kicking of the original smoking habit that is so addictive. There are a plethora of individuals who are experimenting with e-cigarettes, some are allowed to do so at their desks, some need to remove themselves to a smoking area and still others may use the e-cigarettes but are fined for doing so. The possibilities of smoke and the screening of cigarettes known as electronic cigarettes is a haze of unanswered questions.

One person stated he has become more productive because he does not need a cigarette break to indulge his fix. As with many workplaces the firm where he works as a designer has no policy in place concerning the electronic cigarettes or other electronic nicotine inhalers is use. With the use of e-cigarettes growing, health risks at this time are unclear and some companies are not sure if banning their use is a good idea.

Many jurisdictions have no clear rules regarding their use, and people are puffing away on the battery-powered devices. Companies who have updated their smoking policies have banned them. Starbucks’ policy forbids any kind of smoking 25 feet from its stores, and Wal-Mart has limits that include areas designated for smoking. Along those lines, CVS bans smoking on corporate campuses and has a no tolerance approach to the e-cigarette version as well. Franchise owners of McDonald’s restaurants may decide to allow them, but the e-cigarettes are off-limits at its company-owned sites.

Non-union employees are charged a $150 insurance premium every month at UPS, and that happens to be the same monthly amount for regular cigarette smokers. The Affordable Care Act with its new rules allow employers to charge employees a percentage of the annual cost of their health care coverage, in most cases it amounts to 50 percent.

If employees at many companies desire to use e-cigarettes for electronically receiving nicotine, UPS’ example of a penalty may be a beacon of light for them to follow. According to benefit specialists, the e-cigarette may violate smoking cessation programs required to avoid a charge. The screen of smoke surrounding the possibilities of these kinds of cigarettes has become endemic in the workplace.

A rapid rise in e-cigarettes has turned into a $2 billion dollar industry in the United States since their introduction at end of the previous decade. It is only a pittance compared to the $94 billion dollars of the regular cigarette industry, though some watchers of the economy predict the declining market for combustible smoking products retreats, vaporized nicotine replacements will eventually overtake cigarettes in the coming decades.Cigarettes

Studies concerning health issues are mixed though the Food and Drug Administration will begin regulating them as tobacco products. Evidence of e-cigarettes causing either emphysema or cancer is not available, a recent study from England discovered e-cigarettes may help smokers quit more than gum or patches.

A corporate human resources consultant advises clients that banning the devices is a part of a non-smoking policy that can be enforced.  A policy that delineates when, where and if e-cigarettes are allowed is easier to enforce. If a policy is vague, it is a call for conflict.

According to those who have quit smoking altogether, e-cigarettes are just another avenue back into smoking. One person stated quitting is quitting, something to put in your past and smoking e-cigarettes may not be putting it behind you. It is a smoke screen hiding as an excuse to think this is a possibility of leaving an addiction as strong as cigarettes in the ashtray, he stated.

By Andy Towle

Boston Globe
Washington Times