Vaping at Work in Oklahoma: Can Your Employer Stop You?

Posted by: Chris

The phenomenon that is “vaping” has taken over the world, with people of all ages partaking in the electronic alternative to smoking. The activity has become so popular that there are even world championships being held to determine who can blow the most impressive smoke clouds.

With the practice becoming this ubiquitous, and widely accepted, the question arises as to whether it should be allowed in the workplace. In Oklahoma, there are a number of arguments that demonstrate the vague nature of the classification of e-cigarettes and vaping indoors.

The limited amount of knowledge relating to the effects of second-hand vapors means that different states classify e-cigarettes in various ways. In states such as Utah, for example, e-cigarettes are classified in the same bracket as other tobacco products, with the exception that they may be smoked within spaces where vaping products are sold.

The murky classification and regulation of e-cigarettes is not just a state-level quandary, however. The Trump administration has delayed the enforcement of a rule finalized in 2016 which was aimed at imposing stricter oversight over e-cigarettes. The move is to the advantage of the vaping and tobacco industries, as there has been a concerted effort to roll back the proposed enforcement. Lawmakers have attempted to insert language into funding bills, aimed at exempting a large number of products from the oversight of the FDA. This includes, of course, e-cigarettes and related products.

Rather worrisome, however, this lack of any oversight means that the public continues to be unaware of what is in vaping products, and their possible effects on those who inhale vapors. This trend is especially concerning because from 2011 to 2014, the FDA found an increase in the use of e-cigarettes among high school children, from 1.5% to 13.4%.

Not all is lost, however. Despite the delay, the FDA notes that beginning in 2018, its authority will cover e-cigarettes and related products. New rules will necessitate inclusion of an explicit warning label that states that the product contains nicotine, which is an addictive chemical. In the event that a manufacturer certifies that its products do not contain nicotine, the warning must state that the product is made from tobacco instead. This ruling covers all tobacco products, including Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).

So, can Oklahoma employers stop employees from vaping indoors? Right now, it seems to be a matter of corporate discretion. Employers are not barred from banning vaping in office environments, and regulation seems to be moving toward similar restrictions placed on regular cigarettes. Therefore, employers should ideally be forward thinking, and align their e-cigarette policies with their regular smoking policies.

If you need help with workplace issues, the attorneys at Armstrong and Vaught, P.L.C. can help. To arrange a free consultation contact us at (918) 582-2500 or toll free at (800) 722-8880, or visit us online.