Vaping in the workplace
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a new report on the smoking of electronic cigarettes, known as vaping, with employers being urged to ensure a clear policy on the use of the devices in workplaces.
In recent years, electronic cigarettes have become more popular, with sales figures tripling in 2013. It is estimated that in the UK, over two million people use electronic cigarettes. However, electronic cigarettes are not covered by the legal ban on smoking in enclosed workplaces.
In terms of the current law, the smoking of normal cigarettes is banned in enclosed or substantially enclosed public places, including the workplace, under the Health Act 2006. However electronic cigarettes fall outside of the legal definition set out by the Health Act 2006 and so it is up to individual employers to take action and set out a policy on the subject.
Policies on the use of electronic cigarettes could ban employees from using them at their desk, or make them subject to the same general restrictions in the workplace as ordinary cigarettes.
For example, the pub chain Wetherspoons does not allow electronic cigarettes in any area where smoking is not permitted, including hotel rooms and external areas. It has been argued that such bans are necessary because staff may have problems telling the difference between a standard cigarette and an electronic one across a crowded room or that other customers may object.
The WHO report, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, argues that electronic cigarettes should be banned inside cafes, restaurants and other workplaces, and should not be advertised to children and non-smokers.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) argues that electronic cigarettes should be subject to the same general restrictions in the workplace as tobacco, and not be used in any indoor place.