Logistics giant U-Haul has taken one of the toughest stances against nicotine users, refusing to hire anyone who uses nicotine in any form. While this policy is not new, as many companies also restrict or forbid nicotine use, they are one of the largest companies to do so, and it also affects vapers. The policy takes effect on February 1 for any new hires. Those who are currently with the company will be able to smoke or vape.U-Haul said on their website, “This policy furthers the progression of U-Haul to establish one of the healthiest corporate cultures in the U.S. and Canada.”
While U-Haul’s policy may be well-intentioned, typical nicotine testing cannot determine the method of absorption. This means that vapers could be tangled in this web as most vapers prefer 3mg or 6mg of nicotine in their favorite eLiquids, as well as nicotine salts. This ambiguous testing policy could be inadvertently targeting vapers or those who wish to switch to vaping as a method of harm reduction. Closing off these avenues could also hinder the progress of those working at U-Haul as well as other companies that may have restrictions on personal nicotine use.
Interestingly, Arizona-based U-Haul and their no-nicotine policy clashes with Governor Doug Ducey’sstances on vaping. “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.”
Nicotine users do not have protections in 21 states from discrimination: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.
There are some interesting overlaps here: several of these states are “swing states” in the 2020 election as well as “vape states” where Trump’s margin of victory in 2016 was narrower than the number of vapers. Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania fall under the “vape states” that Trump won by narrow margins and traditional “swing states” that presidential candidates tend to focus on in elections (especially Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida). Other states have already implemented flavor bans or have proposed them.
Nicotine users may see huge barriers to employment and risk current employment, especially if they vape and are using vaping as a method of harm reduction. Additional protections for nicotine users should be done at the state level and possibly the federal level, especially if these individuals are vapers and voters. This could cause a political impact at the state and federal level as well if vapers can pinpoint who would advocate for these policies.
It’s no secret to eLiquid.com customers that mainstream media outlets have come out against vaping and incorrectly conflated vaping with respiratory illness over the past few months. Vapers and nicotine users could find an unlikely ally in theLos Angeles Times. This publication has been very vocal about their anti-vape stance in recent months, but their editorial board hascriticized U-Haul’s policy. “U-Haul should revoke this discriminatory policy and go back to promoting its workers’ health in a positive manner,” they 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,” they continued. There are many things that may divide a workforce: differences in religion, politics, and other controversial topics are already present and create barriers to a productive and healthy working environment. Nicotine use is also very personal to a lot of individuals. Could this be the wrong hill for U-Haul and other employers with similar policies against nicotine use to die on?
On the positive side, the media and the vaping industry can find some common ground with zero-tolerance nicotine policies. The vaping industry can educate the media on how vaping is actually a form of harm reduction. Recently, there has been some success. The media is now focusing on vitamin E acetate and illegal THC cartridges (eLiquid.com does NOT sell any products containing vitamin E acetate or THC). TheTimesalso said, “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.”
What are the vaping policies at your workplace? Let us know in the comments below!
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