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I asked a question here about vaping: What should my company's policy be about "vaping"?

I realize that there are a lot of opinions about it. Rather than get my boss and others involved, I want to approach a co-worker directly about his vaping.

At first, I told him I didn't have a problem with it when he asked. But his "vaping" has increased greatly. We share an office and it's getting unbearable.

I recently realized it was illegal to "vape" in the workplace where I live. My company doesn't have a specific policy on it. We are a small company and have an "employee hand book".

How can I approach my co-worker and politely ask him to stop vaping?

I want to be nice about it because we will continue to work together often. I feel he will be reasonable, so I don't think it will be necessary to get others involved. However, I know that others in my office vape (but they have their own office). I prefer they didn't, but don't know how to stop it. My immediate concern is my office mate. I don't want to use the law as my rationale, but will report them if necessary.

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  • 5
    This goes back to your closed question on company policy. If you realized it is illegal to vape in workplace then get the policy changed. If company policy is illegal then that is a policy problem.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 16:41
  • 9
    You could try something simple like, "Would you mind doing that outside?"
    – Brandin
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 16:57
  • 2
    I didn't mind it when you did it occasionally, but you're doing it a lot more so could you cut back?
    – user8365
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 21:12
  • I had this problem awhile ago. I shared an office with someone who was constantly vaping. It really messed up my sinuses and smelled terrible. I asked him to stop and he ignored me. Eventually I had to go to HR....he ignored them too. Eventually my contract was up and I moved on.
    – bluegreen
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 12:46
  • If you need more specific help on how to handle it with your coworker, perhaps Interpersonal stack can help you after you get your answer here? interpersonal.stackexchange.com
    – Gertsen
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 12:25

5 Answers 5

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Be honest, friendly, and direct. What you've said in your question is a good start:

At the beginning you didn't have any objection, but as time has gone on you've realized it does affect you negatively.

It's entirely possible that your co-worker has no idea you're bothered by his vaping, since you initially indicated it wasn't a problem. So I wouldn't be surprised if your co-worker were to be accommodating to your request.

Think ahead of time what kind of compromise, if any, you would accept, so that you're not pressured into making an agreement that you'll have to walk back eventually.

Try to keep it the resolution between yourselves as much as possible -- once you escalate, things can start to go south in terms of working relationships.

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Let's boil this down to the core problem. You say you don't like his vaping, but I'm assuming that it's the smell that's the problem, right? If he was vaping and you couldn't smell it, you wouldn't care?

Therefore, talk about the actual problem, which is the smell. Talk about its effects on you and ask him to stop. "I'm sorry, Dave, but that vape smell is a huge distraction to me and it's making it hard for me to get my work done. Could you please go do that somewhere else?"

In fact, you can even use the words you used in your original question. "Dave, at first I didn't have a problem with your vaping when you asked, but now it's getting unbearable."

If you make it be "Dave, stop vaping" then it sounds like you're judging him for vaping. Don't say "You're vaping more than you used to." You don't want him to get defensive about it.

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  • Glycol vapor has a smell? I've never smelt anything when around vapors (vapers?) Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 0:47
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Yes, most definitely talk to them without passing judgement on their actual behavior.

I once had a (new) co-worker who used a huge amount of perfume. You could tell she was coming 25 feet away. Several of us asked her to cut-back on the perfume - she was receptive.

This being said - I'm surprised (at least in the US) that vaping is allowed in the office.

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  • In the US, vaping depends on the state and/or town. I'm pretty sure its not allowed in federal government offices.
    – bluegreen
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 12:44
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Talk to them about it. If that doesn't work, talk to your manager and/or HR.

Vaping might not be as dangerous as smoking, but its still a lot more dangerous than not doing either, and by vaping in the workplace, your coworker is exposing you to the second-hand vape smoke.

This is a violation of workplace health and safety; there's a reason why smoking is banned in basically all public places people congregate now.

I would recommend talking with your coworker about it, and ask him to smoke in any designated outdoors smoking areas if your workplace has any, or outdoors and away from the entrances to the building if it doesn't.

If this is unsuccessful, I would talk to your manager about taking it to HR. If this employee's behaviour isn't addressed, it will cause the company to become liable for any medical conditions that the other employees might suffer from in the future as a result.

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When I was working at Philips, there was one person who used to smoke a pipe and that was awful. Many of the Dutch employees were into chain smoking.

The approach that worked for me. I bought a spray can labelled Smoke Away. It was supposed to make smoke particles settle down and had a nice smell to it. When they smoked near me, I would apologise and spray a little bit around me, thus making it my problem, rather than theirs. A few months later, they got the hint that I didn't like it and just stopped smoking around me.

So, be polite but honest, without blaming them for their actions.

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  • So it took a few months before they actually figured out that your "spraying" was a signal to them that you preferred that they smoke elsewhere? How is this approach better or more polite than just politely but directly asking them, "hey, would you mind smoking elsewhere/outside/in the designating smoking area?"
    – Brandin
    Commented Aug 28, 2023 at 8:07
  • Because I didn't tell them to do something for me as that was adversarial. I was new and virtually the whole company smoked. As I said, I made it my problem. Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 14:22

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