E-cigarettes in the workplace

E-Cigs-in-the-Workplace-Do-or-Don’tSo, your shine new e-cigarette is outside of the UK smoking laws, does that mean you can use it where ever you like? Much like e-cigarettes on planes, the workplace is now deciding what the rules are for e-cigarettes in the workplace.

What the law says

“E-cigarettes are battery powered devices designed to replicate smoking behaviour without the use of tobacco. They turn nicotine, flavour and other chemicals into a vapour that is inhaled by the user. The exhaled vapour can be seen and some products also have a light at the tip which illuminates when the user inhales.

Whilst smoking in enclosed or substantially enclosed workplaces in England has been prohibited since July 2007 (under the Health Act 2006) in order to reduce the health risks associated with tobacco, in view of the fact that e-cigarettes do not use tobacco it is very unlikely that e-cigarettes are covered by the smoking ban in England, although other countries such as Canada, Denmark and Australia have taken the step to ban them.” Shoosmiths Law Firm

Firms should already be taking action

If the person sitting next to you at work started using an e-cigarette at their desk, would you challenge them?

The use of e-cigarettes in the workplace has again become a hot topic after it was reported that ministers in France were planning to ban their use in public places. Some UK employers have already taken a stand. A few years ago, the insurer Standard Life banned the use of e-cigarettes at the desks of its 5,500 staff. Cheshire East Council is worried about “the use of e-cigarettes … in council offices and other locations, and this is causing concern among staff”. The council wants to ban e-cigs in all of its premises and vehicles.

Forbidding the use of E-cigarettes in the workplace

There may be a concern that preventing the use of E-cigarettes in the workplace may hinder those who use them to stop smoking, particularly if they are required to smoke them in designated smoking areas together with cigarette smokers. Employers may want to consider organising a separate E-cigarette smoking area external to work premises.

Rules and policies

Employers need to be clear about what their rules on the use of E-cigarettes at work are. If they already have a policy on smoking or one on drugs and alcohol then they could include a paragraph about E-cigarettes in there.