Recently U-Haul made the decision to take a zero-tolerance stance on nicotine users. Whether you vape or smoke cigarettes, U-Haul will deny any applicant who uses nicotine in any form. The policy goes into effect on February 1 for new hires, but all current employees hired before that date will be able to use nicotine. The company states , “This policy furthers the progression of U-Haul to establish one of the healthiest corporate cultures in the U.S. and Canada.”
One issue with this sort of testing is that typical nicotine testing cannot determine how the drug was absorbed. By extension, this sort of policy also targets vapers as many vapers usually vape eJuices with 3mg or 6mg nicotine, although some prefer nicotine salts. With the unclear methods of nicotine testing, policies banning nicotine use in the workplace may be inadvertently targeting vapers. Vapers have been using flavors and reporting success as a method of harm reduction, and closing off avenues to employment may harm their progress.
What’s interesting is that Arizona-based U-Haul’s policy directly clashes with the views of current Arizona governor Doug Ducey, who has been favorable to vapers . “I think there are some adults that enjoy these kinds of flavors,” Ducey said. “What I don’t want to do is take someone who is addicted (to nicotine), restrict them from finding a product and push them to the black market,” the governor continued. “So we’re going to have a measured approach.”
21 states have no protections for nicotine users from discrimination: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. Interestingly enough, there are also overlaps between the “vape states” we discussed in a previous blog, as well as states that already have flavor bans.
Therefore, nicotine users may be at the mercy of their employers if they decide to follow U-Haul’s lead. Politically, this could also cause some damage. States such as Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (also states Trump narrowly won in 2016) could be flipped the other way if additional protection for vapers through protecting nicotine users from discrimination aren’t put into place.
Even the Los Angeles Times , which has been very hostile towards vapers recently, has come out against U-Haul’s policy . “U-Haul should revoke this discriminatory policy and go back to promoting its workers’ health in a positive manner,” their editorial board said. With the criticism that the Los Angeles Times has levied against U-Haul’s zero nicotine policy, perhaps there could be some common ground with vaping advocates and the mainstream media?
The editorial board also said, “The fact that the policy only applies to new employees sets up a double standard that seems likely to sow discontent and resentment among the workforce.” The workplace is already pretty delicate, especially in larger corporations. People’s views on politics, religion, and other controversial topics that divide the workplace even further are already present. Nicotine use, which is very personal to many individuals, could be the wrong hill for U-Haul to die on.
This could help vaping advocates and the media find common ground with these zero-tolerance nicotine policies. In the past few months, many people have taken action and managed to break the notion that vaping itself is causing respiratory illness, and they have shifted their focus to illegal THC cartridges and vitamin E acetate. The Times also makes another great point: “If the company’s goals were simply to improve the health of employees, wouldn’t it make more sense to require nicotine users, whether they’re new ones or old ones, to participate in nicotine cessation programs? Simply barring people from working at the company doesn’t actually improve anyone’s health,” they continued.
What are some of the vaping policies at your workplace? Let us know in the comments below!
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