When it comes to electronic cigarettes, there is plenty of conflicting information and opinion regarding the long-term safety and health benefits. However, those using the devices as a tool to quit smoking have reported on their efficacy.

The growing popularity of e-cigarettes or ‘vaping’ has left many businesses feeling uncertain as to whether they need to adopt their own internal policy. It is unlikely there will be a law to regulate the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace, which gives organisations the freedom to choose their own stance.

Before adopting an e-cigarette policy, it’s important employers carefully consider the needs of their staff and how the policy could affect their health and wellbeing.

What do I need to know? Some interesting facts about E-cigarettes

– E-cigarettes do not contain or burn tobacco and do not create any smoke – the inhalation of smoke is what causes a vast array of health issues in regular smokers.

– The lack of tobacco in the device means that it is not a cancer-risk, but they do contain nicotine which is highly addictive.

– The devices contain water and propylene glycol. This vaporises liquid nicotine so that it evaporates when inhaled.

– Using an e-cigarette is not considered the same as smoking and is not covered by any smoke -free legislation.

– There is a wealth of evidence that shows e-cigarettes are helping smokers to quit.

– The long-term health effects of vaping are not currently known; however, it is guaranteed that using an e-cigarette is not worse that smoking.

Do I need a policy on e-cigarettes?

With e-cigarette use on a steady rise, it’s important to have a clear set of rules on the use of these devices in the workplace.

Every working environment is different, meaning there are a variety of businesses and industries that may feel that vaping is not appropriate etiquette. The devices do emit puffs of vapour when used and some businesses may feel this is not suitable for an indoor environment, especially with customers and clients present.

However, the benefits of e-cigarettes cannot be ignored. There are over two million regular e-cigarette users in the UK and many have found them to be effective way to stop or cut down on smoking. It is in the interest of employers to promote a healthy lifestyle and take interest in the wellbeing of their workforce and customers, so supporting ‘smoke free’ alternatives is certainly something to consider.

Providing guidance on the topic of e-cigarettes and vaping will help employees to know how they can incorporate going smoke free into their lifestyle. For example, you may decide to create designated ‘vaping zones’ outside, away from existing smoking areas. You may feel that vaping indoors will not be problematic, or you may choose to prohibit both vaping or smoking on site altogether.

What should an e-cigarette policy include?

Your policy may be as simple as setting out your ‘rules’ around e-cigarettes and vaping.  It does not need to be a long involved document, but should provide clarity for employees.

It may therefore cover:

  • Where e-cigarettes can and cannot be used (don’t forget to consider company vehicles)
  • Any special arrangements for vaping (e.g. if you create vaping areas)
  • Consequences of non-compliance.

Some organisations simply add a sentence about e-cigarettes to their ‘smoking’ policy – e.g. “our smoke-free policy also applies to e-cigarettes and vaping”.

If you’re unsure about drafting and implementing an e-cigarette policy within your business please call Practical HR on 01702 216573 or email paula@practical-hr.co.uk.