Smoking in the workplace is prohibited. By complying with this regulation, managing directors ensure that their employees are not exposed to secondhand smoke and that smokers can concentrate on their work. Employers usually provide special indoor and outdoor smoking areas for breaks. However, the current regulations for cigarette smoke do not apply to vaping in the workplace. Even if the vapor from an e-cigarette does not pose the same risks as active smokers, passive smokers are critical of vapers. Therefore, this article will pay special attention to the legal situation and explain why e-cigarette occupies a special position in labor law. The topic seems all the more relevant since more than 3 million people in Germany are vapers who have switched from cigarettes to e-cigarettes. But is vaping treated differently than traditional smoking?
Is indoor vaping allowed?
Vaping is prohibited in many high-traffic public places. If this is not the case, vapers must at least expect to get one or two eye rolls. Since the technology behind e-cigarettes is still a relatively new invention, e-cigarettes, like vaping itself, usually fall into a gray area legally. Although they are not explicitly forbidden, they are sometimes treated as such. Whether vaping is allowed indoors or not depends on the location. However, many vapers have already observed that a vaping ban is quickly imposed in all places with a smoking ban. You are always on the safe side with open communication. Therefore, before vaping in a hotel, restaurant, or public place, a person in charge should be consulted about the vaping policy. In some cases, you can also get relevant information online beforehand.
Be considerate when vaping
A little empathy helps every vaper and, at the same time, improves the public image of vapers. Even if the vaper enjoys vaping, the selected e-liquid tastes great and doesn’t bother other vapers; not everyone feels the same way. People can quickly become distracted, especially indoors, when someone is vaping near them. You don’t like the smell. Of course, it cannot be assumed that every attendant is informed about the actual health benefits of e-cigarettes compared to normal cigarettes. So what smells so strong can quickly be interpreted as a health risk, which turns the vaper into an antagonist. So whether vaping is allowed or not should be of secondary importance for the vaper when it comes to reaching for the e-cigarette. Rather, the vaper should be considerate and ensure they do not disturb anyone. So it would help if you did not choose a crowded or already poorly ventilated or stuffy place for enjoyable vaping. If conflicts are unavoidable, you should not seek confrontation as a vaper. Since there is still no uniform legal situation in vaping, the topic should be dealt with prudently to counteract possible hate tirades against vapers. Our tip: If someone is bothered by vaping, nothing works better than a sincere apology and retreat to a place that is more suitable for vaping. This way, all parties should be satisfied.
The e-cigarette at work
Whether or not vaping is allowed at work can be divided into several factors. Is on-site vaping generally allowed in public buildings? What are the regulations on this in the workplace? As before, it helps to ask. Compromises can always be found. Larger companies may even have an extra area just for vapers so they can at least avoid the cigarette smoke in the smoking area.
In some cases, even if these are the exception, vaping is allowed in the office or work. But even putting aside the risks that passive vaping may pose to employees, many people find vaping distracting or at least annoying. While even your favorite liquid with the dark coffee aroma tastes great, it can be unpleasant for others. Once the room is filled with the aroma, trouble is inevitable. If non-smokers feel so disturbed by the vaper, the employer still has a right of determination, which he can exercise regarding operational matters. Therefore, a general ban can be imposed on his employees. However, if vaping is allowed, the vaper should still find out what behavior is desired from him. Sooner or later, employees will be required to follow certain behavioral guidelines, so certain tastes have to be foregone, for example. If you deal directly with this topic, you will likely save yourself some trouble afterward. Is vaping forbidden in the workplace, and should one refrain from vaping as much as possible? While stealth vaping offers some opportunities to vape unseen and unnoticed, it’s often not worth it. Even if many rules seem unjustified, you shouldn’t jeopardize your job. Even if the e-cigarette is often advertised as making smoking possible everywhere, this also has clear limits.
The law on vaping in the workplace
There is currently no uniform legislation in favor of or against vapers affecting the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace. Furthermore, the regulations for protection against passive smoking (non-smoker protection), which can be found in the workplace ordinance, cannot be transferred to vaping. This refers exclusively to tobacco smoke, which is not involved in the vaporization of e-liquid. In the end, the individual decision about vaping lies with the employer. If you are confronted with a request from a vaper, a compromise usually has to be found that satisfies both vapers and non-vapers. A general vaping ban is rarely the right choice. However, even poorly thought-out permission can lead to problems.
Allow restricted vaping
The protection of non-smokers in the workplace obliges employers to provide their employees with a smoke-free workplace. This also benefits vapers, who often know the dangers of secondhand smoke better than others. But if they now fill entire offices with thick, sweet steam with impunity, that’s not a good solution either. Vaping may be significantly less harmful than smoking, but some caution is still required. Therefore, it is a good idea to proceed with vaping similarly to smoking. Certain rooms or areas can be designated for vaping, allowing vapers and smokers to retreat here during their breaks.
The importance of vapers at work
Since there are currently no valid regulations for handling e-cigarettes, some vapers see it as their right to vape whenever and wherever they like. However, this only works well until an internal ban is imposed. This is permissible, for example, when it comes to operational matters, i.e., vaping is harmful to the company. This is the case, for example, when vaping is used in sales rooms or restaurants. But even in offices, if enough employees feel distracted or disturbed by vaping, the ban on e-cigarettes in the workplace will certainly be imminent. While employers need a good reason to ban e-cigarettes, it’s not hard to find when vaping is overly intrusive. As a vaper, you should not make decisions independently and without prior consultation. In the end, it is not only in the interest of every employee but also in the interest of the managing director to produce a good performance and a pleasant working atmosphere. This often requires a compromise that satisfies all parties. For example, internal vaping guidelines can be written down in a company agreement.
Working time fraud by losing time while vaping?
A common argument of opponents of vaping, who have gotten nowhere with untenable allegations of health hazards from passive vaping, is that of wasting time. Because of the constant vaping, vapers cannot keep to the contractually agreed working hours. However, this accusation is not applicable either. Today, most working models are based on trust-based working hours. This means workers are expected to get the job done. Whether they dawdle or work extra fast is up to them as long as the job gets done. An employee who does his job while vaping still brings his employer the expected profit. Vaping during working hours can not be regarded as a violation of the employment contract.
A solution model
A possibility that is suitable in many companies would be a physical separation of vapers and non-vapers. However, it is not easy. Since vapers are effectively non-smokers and should be treated, they cannot simply be relegated to smoking rooms. This is where non-smoker protection comes into play. For managing directors, this means that another location has to be found.
Vape prohibited at work – what now?
If a strict vaping ban has been imposed after long discussions at the workplace, it can be frustrating and annoying. However, there are ways to deal with this as well. For vapers, that usually means going out the door. Whether in a designated smoking area or on a short walk, anyone who moves their activities away from the company premises does not have to fear any violation of the rules. You can usually find a pleasant spot in the fresh air where you can vape. At least you can avoid eye rolls or comments from colleagues.
Vaping allowed at work – what now?
Once the managing director has made a clear decision and allows vaping at work, one is quickly willing to take advantage of it accordingly. After all, the permit means you can vape as much as you want. Nevertheless, permission should not be shamelessly exploited. More than ever, polite behavior and etiquette must demonstrate that management made the right decision. This regulation should not be exhausted because it is generally allowed to vape as much as you want. Rather, the consideration given to passive smokers is also acknowledged by colleagues. Everyone would like to have a pleasant working atmosphere. If you follow the tips below, nothing stands in the way. Mutual consideration is a virtue. By not blowing your opponent directly in the face, you can also save yourself a lot of trouble.
Furthermore, liquids with strong aromas should be avoided so that they can only be perceived subtly by others. If you stick to a few basic recommendations, a positive effect on the perception of vapers can be created in this way. Once the employees have got the impression that it is important to the vapers to be considerate and not to vape if someone is bothered by it, they will be much more willing in the future to overlook small discrepancies or to have a constructive discussion instead to submit a complaint directly to the employer’s executive floor.
Finding a solution to the problem of vaping in the workplace can be difficult. However, if it is important to you as an employee to be able to use e-cigarettes in the office from time to time, this should also be communicated. With the employer and the employees concerned, a compromise can be found that everyone is happy with. One should refrain from insisting on one’s rights and vaping excessively until a final vaping ban is imposed. Even if non-smoker protection does not currently extend to e-cigarettes and vaping, this could change quickly in the future. The behavior of vapers today may then have a major impact on what vapers will be allowed to do in the future and what will generally be forbidden. Consideration and a little offending behavior are therefore recommended in any case.