Smoke and Mirrors: Are E-Cigarettes Better For Your Property Than Regular?
If It Looks Like a Smoke, and It Smells Like a Smoke…
E-cigs — electronic cigarettes — aren’t exactly new, but they’re becoming a popular-enough alternative to ‘normal’ smoking that they’re starting to become almost as commonplace, especially in places where smoking is banned.
How do Electronic Cigarettes Work?
E-cigarettes use water vapor with nicotine, flavorings, and other (unregulated) chemicals. When you suck on an e-cig, a battery activates a heating coil that boils a small amount of the water, which you suck in as steam. A cute little LED at the end of the device lights up to simulate the burning embers of a real cigarette. You don’t ‘smoke’ an e-cig, you ‘vape’ with it.
Lots of Questions
The big question for property managers is whether electronic cigarettes are any safer to have people using in public areas than traditional kinds. The industry (naturally) claims they’re much safer than traditional cigarettes as they forego many of the more nasty chemicals used to process tobacco leaves, opting instead for pure nicotine. Outside experts disagree, pointing at the unregulated nature of the vapor packs — the exact contents of which are not legally required to be disclosed — and say that there’s strong potential that whatever is in that vapor is even worse than the contents of a cigarette.
No Tar, No Feathers
The number one benefit of electronic cigarettes for property is that they contain no tar — which means no gross yellow stains on your walls and ceilings, and presumably less stench baked into your paint and furniture. So at least inside, vaping has distinct advantages to smoking. Furthermore, e-cigs are often touted as the first step toward actually quitting, as the vapor cartridges contain variable amounts of nicotine, and can be ‘stepped down’ in the same way as some nicotine patches can.
Problems With Allowing Vaping
So if e-cigs aren’t dangerous to property and they’re less dangerous to people, why not allow them? There are a few decent reasons.
- Which is which? — while some electronic cigarettes look more like Dr. Who’s sonic screwdriver, there are also many that have the precise goal of looking as much like a normal cigarette as possible. Are you going to be the guy to walk up to someone sucking on a white stick and grilling them about their choice of inhalation device?
- Unknown Long-term — as much as it’s assumed that vaping isn’t as bad for your walls and paint as traditional smoking, that is merely an assumption. There haven’t been any significant studies of the long-term effects of vaping on your property — so it may be better to ban the practice as ‘better safe than sorry.’
- Public Perception — smoking has become an act pooh-poohed by the public at large, especially parents. If there’s no easy way to distinguish between vaping and smoking, do you want some parent to walk into your lobby, see someone vaping next to the mailboxes, and spin right around and go to the next apartment down?
In the end, even if e-cigarettes are a good way to avoid some of the dangers of smoking, it’s hard to tell if that’s what’s going on — and their very desire to come as close to the cigarette as possible may be their undoing. It’s too important to show the public that smoking will not be tolerated to have potential tenants make the mistake and turn away.