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Can Illinois Employers Ban the Use of Electronic Cigarettes in the Workplace?

September 2013

By: Anthony J. Caruso, Esq.

Today, the hot new trend is VAPING! What is that? It is the use of an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette). What is an e-cigarette? It is a battery-powered tube (size and shape of a cigarette) that heats a refillable liquid into a vapor that one inhales into the lungs. As such, it may or may not contain nicotine along with other chemicals or flavors depending upon the brand purchased.

In Illinois, there is presently no legal ban on the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace. On January 1, 2008, the Smoke-Free Illinois Act became the law in the State of Illinois which banned smoking in the workplace. This law does not include e-cigarettes. Recent attempts to amend that law to include e-cigarettes have been unsuccessful in the Illinois State Legislature.

Can an Illinois employer ban the use of electronic cigarettes in the workplace? Yes! Employers can revise their tobacco-free (non-smoking) workplace policies to include e-cigarettes as a form of tobacco. The policy should indicate that smoking in any form through the use of tobacco products (pipes, cigars, cigarettes) or "vaping" with e-cigarettes is prohibited.

Why should an employer consider banning e-cigarettes?

  • Looks similar to regular cigarettes - difficult to detect regular cigarette use
  • Possible disruption to the work environment - non-smoker employees may be annoyed by the vapors of the e-cigarette
  • Usage may take away from the productivity of the employee/user
  • May contain nicotine which is harmful to the user/employee.

As the usage of e-cigarettes increases, laws may be enacted to allow control of e-cigarettes or ban their use in public places and the workplace.

If you have any questions or concerns about this topic or any other questions related to employment, please call attorney Anthony J. Caruso of Wessels Sherman's St. Charles, Illinois office at (630) 377-1554 or e-mail ancaruso@wesselssherman.com.