Kicking The E-Cigarette Out Of The Workplace

A recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 85 percent of workplaces have a smoking policy, and that 44 percent of respondents indicated that vaping (the use of electronic cigarettes or other personal vaporizers that atomize nicotine liquid) is addressed in their organizations' smoking policies. In addition, one-third of organizations surveyed that currently had no vaping policy plan to create one this year.

E-cigarettes are usually made of plastic or metal. They contain no tobacco and are battery-powered. They convert liquid nicotine into a vapor that the user inhales.

Liquid nicotine is a poison. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 60 milligrams of liquid nicotine is enough to kill a 150 lb. person. Some e-cigarette formulas include as much as 72 milligrams of nicotine per refill cartridge. And, because the cartridges are unregulated, those who use them cannot be sure exactly what they are inhaling. Tests on some cartridge formulas sold show the presence of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, both cancer-causing agents, as well as toxic metals like nickel and chromium.

Nicotine-poisoning cases rose to 3,783 in 2014 from 460 in 2012. More than half of the poison center calls were in reference to children under the age of six.

Just a few drops on the skin can kill, and has killed, children. In fact, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), describes e-cig exposure and poisoning to be "at unprecedented levels," especially for children. Recognizing the danger, on January 12, 2016, Congress passed legislation and sent the President a bill to sign that requires child-resistant packaging on bottles of liquid nicotine.

Employers are strongly encouraged by the American Lung Association to maintain smoke-free, chemical-free workplaces. Legislation to regulate e-cigarettes is pending in several states. In addition, many universities have banned unregulated nicotine devices" such as e-cigarettes, as have corporations like Target, Wal-Mart, CVS Caremark Corporation and the United States Air Force.

The AAPCC recommends the following safety steps:

  • Call your local poison center immediately at 1-800-222-1222 if you suspect someone has been exposed (ingested, inhaled, or absorbed the liquid on the skin or eyes) to liquid nicotine.
  • Protect your skin when handling the products.
  • Always keep e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine locked up and out of the reach of children.
  • ollow the specific disposal instructions on the label.

By:  Leslie Zieren via The McCalmon Group, Inc