Why NIOSH Doesn’t Want E-Cigarettes at Work



E-cigarettes may be a little more mainstream than years ago; I’ve seen them in parks, around town or at concerts. You can walk around the mall and see vendors puffing them and trying to sell their wares. But the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) says that they should not be in the workplace any more than regular cigarettes should be in the workplace. Why?

Electronic cigarettes are new enough that there isn’t really long term data available to see how dangerous they can be to users or those around them, which is a big reason NIOSH recommended that they be discouraged at work. Just like secondhand smoke can harm co-workers who do not smoke, maybe there is a similar side effect from these e-cigarettes to those who use them or those around them.

NIOSH also encourages employers to implement “tobacco cessation programs” for workers to help them understand the risks of using tobacco or getting them on the path of quitting. Smoking rates have fallen but they estimate that a fifth of the workforce still smokes. Along with regular cigarettes they encourage companies to ban electronic cigarettes not just indoors, but in areas immediately outside of the building or in company vehicles. They outlined all their recommendations in the “Current Intelligence Bulletin 67”.

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