Home Business Insights & Advice Do smoking laws apply to vaping in public spaces and workplaces?

Do smoking laws apply to vaping in public spaces and workplaces?

by John Saunders
3rd Feb 19 11:54 am

With over three million people in the UK now vaping, it’s time for clarity surrounding the laws on vaping in public places and the workplace.

Vaping is not covered by UK smoke free laws, which do not allow smoking in enclosed public places and work environments. This means it is down to organisations to decide their own policy on the use of e-cigarettes. Because the use of e-cigarettes is not covered by UK smoke free laws, this policy does not automatically have to be included in the requirements of said organisation’s smoke free policy. The use of e-cigarettes does not match with the clinical or law definition of ‘smoking’, so policies surrounding the use of e-cigarettes in public and the workplace are to be written clearly and concisely with the health of staff and the public considered.

Whilst non-smokers may find vaping disconcerting, organisations that decide a blanket ban on e-cigarettes may hinder the efforts of their employees, customers and colleagues who are looking to stop smoking. The use of e-cigarettes such as the smok mag kit are far safer than a packet of traditional cigarettes.

Public Health England framework for organisations

Public Health England (PHE) released a framework to help organisations create e-cigarette policies which support smokers in their efforts to quit traditional cigarettes – without causing any distress to non-smokers, plus managing risks unique to their workplace. As public and workplace environments vary, a one-size-fits-all policy is nigh-on impossible. For instance, if you consider the difference between a warehouse, kindergarten, pub and shopping centre, you can see why there are so many different considerations to make.

As the use of e-cigarettes does not apply to the same laws as smoking, the framework from PHE relays five important principles to help organisations implement the best approach possible. Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE recognises that “vaping is much less harmful than smoking”.

He continued to say such framework “will encourage organisations to consider both the benefits and the risks when developing their own policies on e-cigarettes.

“Different approaches will be appropriate in different places, but policies should take account of the evidence and clearly distinguish vaping from smoking.”

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest people are at risk of harm from secondhand e-cigarette vapour so should businesses decide to allow vaping on their premises, non-smokers needn’t be concerned. When businesses are creating their vaping policy, there are five factors to consider as outlined by PHE.

Firstly, the distinction between vaping and smoking must be clear. Secondly, policies should be well informed by the evidence on health risks to bystanders. With this in mind, should any evidence of vaping being harmful come to light, businesses should adapt their policies accordingly. Thirdly, it is the duty of the organisation to identify and manage risks of uptake by children and young people. The organisation in question should also support smokers to stop smoking and remain smoke-free whilst also supporting compliance with smoke-free laws and policies.

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