Another region bans e-cigs at work

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Los Angeles is the latest in a string of municipalities to ban e-cigarette use in the workplace, following the lead of cities like Chicago and New York City. Anywhere smoking is banned in the city, including most public places, will also see a ban on cigarettes’ advanced cousins. E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices which produce nicotine-infused vapor considered less toxic than smoke, and their comparatively low cost is making them an increasingly popular alternative to traditional cigarettes. Between 2008 and 2012, sales grew more than 70 times to 3.5million, and one in five US smokers has tried the devices.

The trend is causing many employers to readdress their own policies surrounding tobacco use, as there is currently no firm standard for e-cigarette smoking, known as ‘vaping’. Exxon Mobil allows vaping wherever smoking is allowed, while Starbucks and CVS Caremark ban both vaping and smoking for employees and customers. And for the purposes of health insurance at UPS, vaping is considered exactly the same as smoking.

Among the states that have banned workplace smoking, only Utah, New Jersey and North Dakota have amended their legislation to include e-cigarettes. But in the US army, the HR department has made a firm move against the new technology. As of February this year, army personnel must treat e-cigarettes the same as any other tobacco product.

“There may be evidence to indicate that e-cigs are less harmful than smoking a pack of regular cigarettes,” says Pamela Jinnohara, of the Army’s Directorate of Human Resources. “However, due to lack of regulatory oversight and the presence of nicotine … the Center for Disease Control has issued warnings.”

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