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Smoking Returns to the Office

If you thought the only time you would see smoking in the office would be on an episode of Mad Men, think again. One of the most interesting cultural trends of 2013 has been the explosion in popularity of electronic cigarettes. In some offices, employees are "vaping" while working in their cubicle.

no smoking

(Photo Credit: SmartSignBrooklyn/Flickr)

Electronic cigarettes give nicotine addicts a chance to get their fix without the deadly, smelly smoke (there are also nicotine-free e-cigs). They look similar to a large pen and they work by heating up a liquid with a small battery which produces a nicotine-filled vapor.


It's a booming business, which has tripled this year to $1.5 billion, and is projected to be reach $124.5 billion in sales by 2028, according to Bloomberg.

The sudden popularity has caught some employers off guard. Using an electronic cigarette isn't exactly smoking and it doesn't pose any known risk to coworkers, so should it be allowed in the workplace?

Ged King, the president of a small marketing firm in North Carolina, told Bloomberg he noticed an employee with an electronic cigarette is a meeting one day and he didn't have a problem with it. Now, a few people in his office are vaping daily and he believes it has made them more productive.

“We've not put a policy in place because nobody has complained,” King said.

Other institutions aren't as electronic-cigarette friendly. The University of California system, which oversees a number of universities in the state, recently said electronic cigarettes were not exempt from the system's smoking ban.

"It's not even clear what ingredients are going into these products, and it's not clear if there is consistent high quality manufacturing from some of these products. Usually, the ingredients are not publicly available. Rather than adopting a potentially risky product, it's safer to ban these products on the campuses as a precautionary approach," Josh Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley and a member of the UC committee that wrote the smoking ban, told the Oakland Tribune.

Some public officials are also weighing in. The San Diego San Diego County Board of Supervisors are looking into regulating electronic cigarettes, XETV reports.

"We don't need our children or youth to see adults appear to be smoking around our county facilities," Supervisor Dave Roberts said. "I'm worried about the perception of traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes and how they'll dramatically change and undermine all the efforts we've put into prevention and anti-smoking in our region."

Tell Us What You Think

Would you be comfortable have coworkers smoke an electronic cigarette at work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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