Dealing with E Cigarettes in the Workplace

Employers are having a hard time dealing with the scenario of e-cigarettes in the workplace, for numerous reasons.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) says that in the region of 2.1 million adults in the UK use e-cigarettes, which raises the question of whether or not a company's smoking policy should differentiate between the use of traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

What is the Legal Position on E-Cigarettes?

Because the act of smoking involves a substance being burnt, e-cigarettes fall outside the scope of smoke-free legislation. Because of this, companies can make their own decisions as to whether to allow employees to use e-cigarettes at work.

Considerations When Creating a Smoking Policy

There is plenty to consider on the subject of e-cigarettes when putting together your smoking policy.

Firstly, you should bear in mind that some workers may be using e-cigarettes as part of a smoking cessation plan. For this reason, you may wish to support their use.

Next up, you have to think about other employees. They may find the vapour irritating, and there may be a health risk through passive consumption. There is little research at this stage as to whether there are any health risks associated with inhaling the vapour from e-cigarettes, but it is still something to consider.

E-cigarettes can be very similar in appearance to traditional cigarettes which may lead to other employees or visitors to your premises thinking that smoking is going on in the workplace. Even if you do allow staff to use e-cigarettes then it would be a good idea to put a layer of management approval in so that it is known who is using them for the purposes of distinguishing between those and traditional cigarettes.

If you are going to allow employees to use e-cigarettes in a designated area, then you will need to think about whether it should be the same area used by traditional smokers. Taking into consideration the fact that e-cigarette users are fairly likely to be attempting to quit the use of traditional cigarettes, they may find it difficult to be around traditional smokers. It may be an idea to create separate areas.

Take Advice When Drawing up Smoking Policies

Whatever you decide to do, you need to be clear on your rules and set out policies that everyone understands. Talk to your employment lawyers who will help you draw up policies in accordance with the approach you settle upon, and that stay in line with the law.

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