14:21 PM

Is It Time to Update Your Policy About Vaping at Work?



Vaping, or smoking e-cigarettes, has now been tied to serious lung diseases – and even deaths. Here are five things everyone needs to know about vaping.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigates the connections between vaping and hundreds of cases of severe lung disease and several deaths, it may be time for employers to rethink their workplace policies around e-cigarettes.

New Jersey was the first state to ban the use of e-cigs at work. Now that the health effects of vaping may be more harmful than first thought, employers need to be clear about which products and what areas of the worksite are covered by company policy. Employers also need to consider how to help support the health of employees and teenage family members who vape.

Until it’s better understood how so many people who vape became sick, the CDC is urging people to stop using e-cigarettes and other vaping products.

As new cases pop up in the news, here are five things your employees need to know about vaping:

1. Teens are vaping at an alarming rate. The CDC reports that while 2.8 percent of US adults use e-cigs, almost 21 percent of high schoolers vape. In 2018, more than 3.6 million high school and middle school students reported to have vaped in the past 30 days – an increase of 78 percent from the previous year.

2. Vaping can cause dangerous health effects, especially for young adults. E-cigs contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and particularly harmful to adolescents. It can harm teens’ brain development, affecting attention, learning, mood and impulse control, according to the CDC. The drug can also raise blood pressure, putting people at risk for heart disease or stroke. Since e-cigs have only been around for a short time, the long-term health effects are unknown.

3. E-cigs are not safe. E-cigs heat a liquid and produce an aerosol of small particles, which can contain potentially harmful substances, including nicotine, heavy metals like lead, volatile organic compounds, and cancer-causing agents.

Some e-cigs contain more nicotine than regular cigarettes, making them more addictive. The CDC reports that vaping can also lead some people to use tobacco products in the future.

4. Not all vaping is legal. Illegal vaping liquids are often used with legally sold e-cig devices. Many young people buy vaping ingredients “on the street” where there is no oversight to their safety or quality. In fact, several of the lung illness cases reportedly involve THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, or vitamin E acetate, an oil found in cannabis products. In many places, the sale of marijuana remains illegal.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently begun regulating vaping, many e-cig manufacturers have not yet sought FDA approval or published detailed information on their ingredients.

5. When it comes to stopping vaping, knowledge is a powerful deterrent. According to the CDC, talking to teens about the dangers of vaping and setting a good example by being tobacco-free can help prevent or stop the use of e-cigs. This tip sheet can help parents start the conversation.

Health care providers can also play a role in exposing the harmful effects of vaping. If you are concerned that your teen may be vaping or may find themselves tempted to experiment, this would be a good topic to address with your child’s health care provider at their next check-up.

Vaping originally held promise as a less harmful alternative to regular cigarettes for adult smokers. Now that vaping is increasingly being associated with serious health consequences, Horizon BCBSNJ encourages anyone who vapes or uses e-cigarettes to quit.