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Should You Allow E-Cigarettes in Your Non-Smoking Property?

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As of now, there are over 2.5 million electronic cigarette users in the United States.  And while e-cigarettes are still a relatively new trend in America, the truth is that it is gaining in popularity.

Deciding whether the use of e-cigarettes constitutes “smoking” and whether they should ultimately be allowed in your non-smoking property is confusing.  With so many definitions surrounding the traditional idea of “smoking,” landlords must proactively attack this issue to avoid later problems with tenants.

With more people turning to the use of e-cigarettes, landlords in the Montgomery County area are faced with a looming dilemma:

Should e-cigarettes be allowed in your non-smoking property?

To help answer this question we will take a look at some the most common issues surrounding e-cigarettes in hopes that this will help you decide whether or not to allow this alternative method of smoking in your rental property.

 

What are Electronic Cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes use water vapor mixed with nicotine, flavorings, and other unregulated chemicals in a battery operated device.  When you suck in on an e-cigarette, the battery activates a heating coil that boils the nicotine solution that you suck in as steam.  This entire process is not known as smoking.  Rather, it is referred to as “vaping”.

Although e-cigarettes do use nicotine, much like a traditional cigarette, they differ in that they do not use tobacco so they do not burn.  They can be manufactured to resemble cigarettes, cigars, and even pipes.  Even more so, they can be made to look like ordinary electronic devices such as pens or USB memory sticks.

 

Are E-Cigarettes Safer Than Traditional Cigarettes?

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From many smokers’ perspectives, using an e-cigarette is not smoking and the vapor emitted from the e-cigarette device is not considered secondhand smoke.  This is why many tenants, even some of your Silver Spring tenants, may feel that banning the use of e-cigarettes is unreasonable.

That being said, there is not a lot of information regarding the health risks of vaping with e-cigarettes, much like there is with traditional cigarette smoking. For example, traditional smoking continues to be the leading preventable cause of sickness and mortality.  In fact, over 400,000 deaths occur each year in the United States due to smoking.

However, since e-cigarettes are designed to mimic the act of tobacco smoking by producing an appealing flavored aerosol that looks and feels like tobacco smoke, there are a lot of supporters stating that less nicotine is delivered per vape, the chemicals produced are less toxic, and the vape that is produced is not burnt tobacco so they are indeed safer than conventional cigarettes.

On the other hand, because there are so many unregulated, and thus undisclosed, chemicals in e-cigarettes, there are experts that state that the toxicity of e-cigarettes is actually unknown and the possibility that harmful chemicals can be inhaled during the vaping process is still real.

 

Do E-Cigarettes Damage Property?

If you currently have a Bethesda rental property and are considering whether to allow electronic cigarettes in your otherwise non-smoking property, it is important to understand what kind of physical damage e-cigarettes can cause.

One of the biggest complaints about smoking in a rental property is the damage to the property that can result.  Walls, furnishings, and carpeting take on the smell of smoke.  Further, the residue left from the secondhand smoke can be very difficult to remove.  This is commonly due to the tar contained within traditional cigarettes that can cause a yellow stain to appear on your walls and ceilings.

These negative aspects make it more difficult to lease your property to non-smokers in the future because the smell and dinginess created by smoking is extremely unpleasant.

As for e-cigarettes, most users believe that there is no residue or smell left anywhere as a result of the vapor emitted while smoking an e-cigarette.  And the users that do agree that there is a residue left from vaping still mostly believe that the residue is easily removed and will not have any lasting effects.

 

Maryland Law on E-Cigarettes

Though Maryland does stand strong on the prohibition of the sale of e-cigarettes to minors under the age of 18, there is very little to be found regarding the use of e-cigarettes in rental properties.  This means that it is up to landlords to decide whether to make their Gaithersburg or Rockville rental properties 100% smoke free or not.

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Here are some of the most common reasons for not allowing the use of e-cigarettes in your rental property:

  • Difficult to Monitor. If you prohibit traditional cigarette smoking, yet allow the use of e-cigarettes, many problems can arise based on looks alone.  Since many e-cigarettes are designed to look exactly like a traditional cigarette, how can you possibly plan monitor this?
  • Damage Concerns. Sure, those using e-cigarettes will claim that there is no smell, no residue is left (or that it is easily cleaned up) and that the chances of damage to your rental property are slim.  But, there have been no long term studies determining this to be true and unfortunately your Maryland property may suffer in the long run because of this.
  • Public Perception. Many individuals who do not like to be around traditional cigarette smoking also prefer to avoid being around e-cigarette use as well.  This is something to carefully consider when it comes to attracting potential tenants.  If you allow e-cigarettes in your rental property, even if you prohibit traditional cigarette smoking, some qualified tenants may be turned off from even considering your property as a possible rental home for their family.

 

In the end, whether you decide to allow e-cigarette use in your rental property or not, it is important that you draft a solid and explicit lease agreement outlining your final decisions.  The language should be clear about what is allowed and what is not, as well as the potential consequences for failing to abide by the lease terms.

If you do allow e-cigarette smoking in your property, you should conduct regular inspections of your property to check for the presence of e-cigarette residue.

If you are looking for a property management company to help you draw up the perfect lease agreement that outlines your smoking and e-cigarette policies, consider contacting Bay Management Group.

With a knowledgeable staff up-to-date on all pending laws regarding the use of e-cigarettes in rental properties, as well as the expertise of drafting solid lease agreements that all parties can agree to, Bay Management has you covered when it comes to tricky questions such as e-cigarette use.