(Kim Tunnicliffe/WBZ NewsRadio)
TAUNTON, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — "Vape breaks" are being put to a halt at a fast-food joint in Taunton.
The Star Drive-In has banned vaping for workers under 21 years old, as well as cellphone use.
“If I can have a policy for those damn cell phones then I can do it with vaping,” owner Erika Madden told the Taunton Daily Gazette last week.
But staff members tell WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe the decision didn't come in light of the recent rash of vape-related illnesses across the country—it happened, they say, because workers were getting distracted.
"It comes down to productivity," said cook John Paul Benoit. "When they're out vaping [and on their] cellphones, they're not being productive."
Star Drive-In employee Serena Cornell, 18, says her feelings toward the policy have evolved since it was put in place.
"I was mad the first day, but then I was like, you know, this is a good thing," Cornell said. "It's not like I need it. Some kids are mad at it, but it's a rule, it's a rule."
Cornell said that, although she vapes every day, she's not addicted.
Benoit says vaping is also a health concern, and many of the restaurant's employees weren't legally old enough to vape anyway.
"These young kids don't really need to be doing that at a young age," cook John Paul Benoit says. "Once they get to the legal age that it's allowed, then it's their choice. But for now, I think it's a real good thing for them."
He also agrees with the cellphone ban.
"The young teenagers these days really are connected on these phones," Benoit said.
If they don't like it, Benoit says, they can go.
"There are a couple here that have been wanting to quit, so this is a good way for them to quit," Benoit said. "The others have accepted it and kind of moved on."
WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports