Redesigned, but no less dangerous, it has made its presence felt in conversation circles in front of the large commercial buildings in Brazil's urban centers.

After 17 years of prohibition and a strong campaign to raise awareness about the health problems it causes, cigarettes, now in electronic versions, are once again being smuggled into bars, parties, restaurants, and even workplaces.

Known as electronic smoking devices (ESD), this new type of cigarette has reignited the alert of health authorities and brought focus on an issue considered settled by companies: the ban on smoking in the workplace.

In 1996 Law 9,294/96 was enacted, which prohibited, in its article 2, the use of cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, pipes, or any other smoking product, whether or not derived from tobacco, in enclosed public or private places.

States and municipalities also have laws that restrict use and bring severe punishments for establishments that allow their patrons to smoke cigarettes (and all variations thereof) on their premises. In São Paulo, Law 13,541/09 provides for possible shutdown of establishments that allow users (or employees) to smoke inside.

It is important, therefore, that companies bring the issue back up for discussion with their employees.

In 1988, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security issued Interministerial Ordinance 3,257/88, which recommended that smoking be dealt with by the Internal Committees for the Prevention of Accidents (Cipas). The reason is the harmful effects on the worker, including on his senses, which can result in an increase in the number of work-related accidents.

With the repeal of the ordinance in 2021 by the Infralegal Labor Regulatory Framework, some companies have stopped addressing the issue in their Cipas. But the increasing number of e-cigarette users in Brazil, including in the workplace, shows the importance of resuming the campaigns.

As there is no scientific data proving the safety or reduction of harm attributed to this type of device in humans, Anvisa has prohibited the marketing, importation, and advertising of electronic cigarettes in Brazil since 2009.

The companies must be alert to the return of smoking habits in their establishments, both out of respect for the law and because it represents damage to the worker's health, which can lead to an increase in absences from work, health insurance claims, and social security leave.

An employee caught smoking an electronic cigarette in the workplace can be warned, suspended, or even dismissed for cause, depending on the company's policies on the subject.

As always, it is best to invest in awareness and prevention, not allowing this outdated - and illegal - practice to return to the corporate environment as something cool.