It is estimated that there are over 2.8 million people across the UK who use e-cigarettes on a regular basis, and it is expected that the popularity of vaping is going to increase over the next five years, according to global worldwide trends. Some individuals use it as a way to ween off smoking cigarettes and others just enjoy the flavour and experience.
There are clear rules regarding smoking in the UK, and when the smoking ban was introduced in 2007, it became illegal to smoke indoors including bars, restaurants, pubs, airplanes, schools and hospitals – and any public place for that matter. However, there currently is not much regulation in place when it comes to those who vape, and what the employment laws in the UK state regarding this. We spoke to Ohmies to find out more.
It is up to the business to decide
The reality is that in the UK it is up to the company in question regarding whether or not they will allow their employees to use vaping supplies or e-cigarettes in the office.
On one hand, a business owner may allow its employees to vape inside the office as a way to make staff more productive and avoid them constantly going out for smoking breaks. Also, whilst cigarette smoke is harmful to those around them in the form of second-hand smoke, the current evidence from vaping is that it is less harmful to others in their vicinity – hence some employers may take a lighter approach to vaping in the workplace.
However, other employers may not allow its staff to vape in the office. This may be for a multitude of reasons, but some of the most commonly cited include that they find that it could distract staff in the workplace, or they do not like the smell of vaping (which could also decrease productivity of other staff who do not vape) as well as the potential for it to be a potential fire or smoke hazard.
For some, the dangers are still unknown and it could indeed pose a long term health risk to those around them – or for the very least pose an instant threat to those who are pregnant or suffer from asthma.
Companies must establish policies
In 2016, Public Health England (PHE) stated that there should be clear policies implemented in the workplace when it comes to vaping. PHE wants to see businesses stating clearly to its staff (through signs or in its official company policy for example) under what circumstances using e-cigarettes or other vaping products are permitted, if at all.
PHE also wants more businesses across the UK to aim towards having a smoke-free environment, and providing its staff with support when it comes to smoking providing them with support and evidence of the health risks incurred due to smoking.
The use of policies also gives a structure for any staff members that continue to vape against the office policy. So employees should know the boundaries and potential punishments for vaping in the office. Overall this should create a better understanding of what is allowed and what is not.
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