Since July 2007, smoking has been banned in enclosed or substantially enclosed public areas, work spaces and work vehicles – but where does this leave vaping in the workplace?
Electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices fall outside of smoke free legislation, as the act of smoking requires the burning of a substance, meaning there is currently no law against vaping in the workplace. This means that vaping should be allowed in any area including the workplace. However, there has been an increased trend of businesses banning the use of vaping devices in the workplace.
In 2018, MPs advised that businesses should relax their rules around vaping; the benefit of allowing vaping devices in the workplace is that it may encourage further employees to stop smoking. Giving up smoking can be extremely difficult for individuals and allowing staff to vape can go a long way in supporting this journey to better health.
Another benefit of allowing vaping in the workplace is that those wishing to vape don’t have to use their vaping devices in a designated smoking area; vaping in the same area as smokers is likely to result in a smoking relapse.
However, vaping in the workplace can have downsides. If a business has customers regularly visiting or walking through the building, they may mistake vaping devices as real cigarettes which could give a poor impression of the company and result in a decline in the reputation of the company. The good news is that as vape devices have developed, they’ve moved further away from the look of a traditional cigarette meaning that they’re less likely to be confused with smoking in the workplace.
Another downside is that not all employees will be supportive of vaping and may be annoyed by or concerned about the scent and appearance of the vapour, causing a rise in employee complaints and unhappiness in the workplace.
Public Health England (PHE) have suggested in their guidance on the use of e-cigarettes in public places and workplaces that employers should consider the following five policies when understanding the impact of vaping in the workplace.
- Make clear the distinction between vaping and smoking
- Ensure policies are informed by evidence on health risks to bystanders
- Identify and manage risks of uptake by children and young people
- Support smokers to stop smoking and stay smokefree
- Support compliance with smokefree law and policies
If employers are unsure if they can accommodate the free use of vaping devices in the workplace, they may want to consider creating policies that still enable vaping at work without disruption to the business and its employees. Separate designated smoking and vaping areas can remove the risk of smoking relapse that occurs in combined areas, and allowing employees to take vaping breaks as they would smoking breaks could enable the transition from smoking to vaping in the workplace.
Ultimately, it’s at the employers' discretion whether they want to allow vaping equipment in the workplace or ban them outright as they would other smoking devices. Whatever their decision, they should make sure that there are clear rules and policies around the use of e cigarettes and ensure that their decision is based on evidence and facts that relate to the five major considerations above.
Browse our range of vape kits to find a vape device suitable for vaping in your workplace.