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Vaping in the Work Setting: Time for a Vanishing Act

Key Points:

  • Employees can be impacted by vaping in the workplace.

  • A universal ban and/or continuous monitoring of e-cigarette use in the workplace is needed.

Vaping in the workplace

Traditional smoking has been banned from most workplaces for a while. But the omnipresent availability of e-cigarettes and vape devices presents new issues for employers and employees—more specifically, the inconsistent and sometimes nonexistent use restrictions and enforcement of these devices in the work setting.

Are there regulations for vaping in the workplace?

Federal law does not ban or regulate vaping in private workplaces; however, many states, localities and work environments have taken action. As of January 2023, 1,012 municipalities – plus 26 states, commonwealths, and territories – restrict e-cigarette use in venues that are already 100% smoke-free, according to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that, at a minimum, employers should create and maintain smoke-free workplaces that protect employees from involuntary, secondhand exposures. Essentially, this means workplace policies should limit not only tobacco smoke but also airborne emissions from e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems.

What is the prevalence and employee impact of vaping in the workplace?

In one study, researchers investigated the prevalence of workplace vaping and its effects on fellow workers in a web-based survey of 1,607 adults ages 18 years old and above. More than half the participants (58.7%) had never vaped , but 25.1% were current e-cigarette users. Study findings include:

  • Persistent prevalence: The majority (61%) of participants reported seeing a co-worker vape at work; three-quarters of current e-cigarette users reported vaping at work.

  • Perceived harm: Most participants perceived workplace vaping to be harmful to non-users.

  • Bothersome: The majority (63%) of participants reported being bothered by vaping in the workplace.

  • Altered productivity: Approximately half of the participants believed vaping at work decreases productivity among non-vapers.

Employee at desk working

Another study using the same participants as the earlier web-based survey found that workplace vaping triggered a desire to vape or smoke among current tobacco users and those who had quit tobacco within the past year. Most survey respondents – both tobacco users and non-users – indicated that support for vaping cessation at the workplace was critical.

How should employers address vaping?

Some strategies include:

✔ Know your state and local laws; where they stand on e-cigarette and vaping regulation.

✔ Ensure e-cigarette and vaping restrictions are included in human resources and workplace

policies and are clear, comprehensive and enforced.

✔ Provide cessation support for employees.

✔ Purchase a vape detector for the workplace.

The bottom-line.

Regulating vaping in as many venues as possible can help to establish healthy environments for all. Since most individuals spend much of their day at work, vaping restrictions should extend to the workplace. Implementing policies to restrict vaping in the workplace may also motivate some employees to limit or stop their use – and protect other co-workers from potentially harmful secondhand vaping.

By Linda Antinoro

Reviewed by Cindy Bistany, DHSc


  1. American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation. Electronic Smoking Devices. More Information on Policy/Laws Trends. Retrieved from

  2. NIOSH [2015]. Current intelligence bulletin 67: promoting health and preventing disease and injury through workplace tobacco policies. By Castellan RM, Chosewood LC, Trout D,Wagner GR, Caruso CC, Mazurek J, McCrone SH, Weissman DN. Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2015-113. Page 33.

  3. Romberg AR, Diaz MC, Briggs J, Stephens DK, Rahman B, Graham AL, Schillo BA. Vaping in the Workplace: Prevalence and Attitudes Among Employed US Adults. J Occup Environ Med. 2021 Jan 1;63(1):10-17. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000002061. PMID: 33105399; PMCID: PMC7773161.

  4. Graham AL, Amato MS, Jacobs MA, Romberg AR, Diaz MC, Rahman B, Schillo BA. Vaping in the Workplace: Implications for Employer-Sponsored Tobacco Cessation Programs. J Occup Environ Med. 2020 Dec;62(12):986-992. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000002013. PMID: 32881778; PMCID: PMC7720875.

  5. Freitas-Lemos R, Stein JS, Pope DA, Brown J, Feinstein M, Stamborski KM, Tegge AN, Heckman BW, Bickel WK. E-liquid purchase as a function of workplace restriction in the experimental tobacco marketplace. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2022 Jun;30(3):371-377. doi: 10.1037/pha0000444. Epub 2021 Feb 25. PMID: 33630645; PMCID: PMC8384943.


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