A surge in the popularity of e-cigarettes
has prompted Fox Cities municipalities to address workplace policies on the use of tobacco and nicotine products.
Appleton, Kaukauna, Menasha and Neenah city employees face a mix of policies and rules governing the use of tobacco and electronic cigarettes.
The four cities prohibit smoking in municipal buildings and vehicles, in compliance with the state's indoor smoking ban, but no consensus has been reached on the use of chewing tobacco or e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes don't contain tobacco or produce smoke. They are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution to create a vapor that the user inhales to produce a sensation similar to smoking. The process is called vaping.
Neenah revised its employee policy last month to prohibit the use of any tobacco products or e-cigarettes within city buildings or vehicles. The new policy will take effect Aug. 1, 2015.
Heather Barber, Neenah's director of human resources and safety, said the grace period acknowledges the significance of the change for employees and will give them time to complete a tobacco-cessation program.
"There was some strong opposition to putting this in place this year," she said. "Some supervisors were concerned about morale issues."
Barber said the hazards of smoking and chewing tobacco are widely understood. Allowing e-cigarettes, she said, circumvents the appearance of a smoke-free workplace. She also questioned the safety of e-cigarettes for the user and those exposed to second-hand vapors.