Vaping has become a growing concern in the workplace, with nearly 11 million American adults using vape products, according to the CDC. While many believe that vaping is relatively harmless, more socially acceptable than smoking, and a useful quit tool, nicotine is addictive and dangerous no matter how it is delivered. That’s why now is the time to learn more about vaping, why it’s harmful, and how your workplace can take action.
What is vaping?
Vape devices are battery-powered devices that use liquid-filled cartridges, usually containing nicotine, flavorings, and chemicals. This liquid is heated to vapor, which is then inhaled. Vaping devices include; e-cigarettes, pods, vape pods and vape pens, among others.
How does vaping work?
Blowing activates the heating device, vaporizing the liquid in the cartridge. The user inhales the resulting vapor. Newer generation vaping devices provide higher atomizer power, delivering nicotine faster and more efficiently to the user.
Isn’t vaping safer than smoking?
Often employees who want to quit smoking turn to vaping, also known as e-cigarettes, sometimes believing it to be less harmful and more socially acceptable. Many choose to vape as a way to become non-smokers. Although e-cigarettes have been promoted as an aid to help people quit smoking, a a recent study showed rates of nicotine dependence are more than twice as high among e-cigarette users as compared to traditional tobacco smokers.
Among users of both products, levels of nicotine dependence were higher with e-cigarette use than with conventional cigarettes. These findings suggest that e-cigarettes may have a higher addictive potential than combustible cigarettes. Many employees choose to vape during work hours and smoke cigarettes outside of work hours, a combination that puts them at even greater risk of health problems. Despite the hype, vaping is unlikely to help people quit smoking.
Vape pens contain nicotine, sometimes in greater amounts than cigarettes. Nicotine is dangerous in any form and is a highly addictive, toxic substance that raises blood pressure and increases adrenaline, which increases heart rate and the chance of a heart attack. Emerging data from Johns Hopkins suggests that vaping also increases the chances of lung diseases and asthma. Employees who vape are exposed to unknown chemicals that are not fully understood and are likely unsafe.
Vaping is gaining more and more popularity
Vaping is most popular among younger employees. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, 20 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 use vape products, compared to 16 percent of those ages 30 to 64 and less than 0.5 percent of those 65 and older. And vaping is gaining popularity. The global e-cigarette and vape market is estimated at USD 18.13 billion in 2021 and is expected to lead $182.84 billion by 2030. Many analysts predict that vaping and e-cigarettes will become the next nicotine epidemic.
Vaping is a problem in the workplace
Employers should be concerned about the growing trend of vaping and how it affects employee health, the workplace and health care costs. Vaping reduces the overall productivity and morale of organizations. For example, those who vape are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who don’t. Their conditions can be more difficult to treat due to disruption of the brain’s coping mechanisms that buffer depressive symptoms. Higher incidences of nicotine use have also been linked to conditions such as ADHD. Performance drops when vaping or smoke breaks interrupt work. Those who vape are more likely to miss work due to health problems and illnesses.
Because vaping is sometimes perceived as more socially acceptable, it’s not uncommon for employees to imbibe on the job. When they do, 63 percent of their peers say they are worried or irritated by 24/7 vaping. Vaping in the workplace leads to lower overall morale and job satisfaction.
How can my workplace take action?
The evidence is clear – vaping is a growing trend that should worry employers. Taking quick action benefits everyone in the workplace. Here are four steps employers can take today to help employees who drink find ways to quit.
Educate your employees. There are many myths that vaping is safe and leads to better health and less nicotine use. Share the dangers of vaping with your team so they are not misled by misinformation.
Make sure you offer a smoking cessation program through your benefits plan that includes a cigarette. Many programs focus only on tobacco users.
Find a program that provides a personalized approach with vital features like one-on-one coaching, engaging content and resources to build healthier habits. Individuals are 3.6 times more likely to successfully quit with a trained coach by their side.
Ask your provider for clinical evidence that their program works. A good provider will have quantifiable results backed up with solid data and clinical documentation to back up the claims.
Helping your employees quit smoking increases workplace productivity and reduces the overall impact on your business’ bottom line. The sooner you implement an effective smoking cessation program, the better off your employees and organization will be.
Photo: Flickr user Kannaway