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Public Health England Advises Employers to Treat Vaping Differently to Smoking

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Public Health England has recently released new e-cigarette guidelines which urge employers to see vaping as a stop-smoking method.

Unlike smoking, vaping is not banned by the government in public or private places. Instead, it is up to each property owner to decide whether to allow vaping on their premises. Businessman holds e-xigarette or vaporizer in hand | Electric Tobacconist UK Many workplaces fail to distinguish between smoking and vaping by banning vaping inside and asking vapers to use the designated smoking area. Vaping has also been banned by Network Rail, who manage many of the UK’s largest railway stations. While we’re not encouraging vapers to cause trouble, there’s no legal support for the ban and all train staff can do to enforce it is politely ask vapers to stop. But new guidelines from Public Health England (PHE) ask employers to look at vaping in a different light. The authors of the PHE guidelines stress the facts that 1) the vast majority of vapers are actively trying to quit smoking and 2) the best available evidence suggests there is little to no harm to bystanders from “secondhand vapour”.

New e-cigarette guidelines for the workplace

Public Health England has urged employers to make a distinction between tobacco and vaping in their smoking policies. They have outlined five key principles that will help employers create a policy that’s both appropriate for their organisation and fair on those that choose to vape instead of smoke. Here are the principles identified by Public Health England:
  1.     A clear distinction

The current evidence suggests that e-cigarettes carry only a fraction of the risk of traditional cigarettes and furthermore, do not meet the “legal or clinical definitions of smoking.” Any fair vaping policy will treat e-cigarettes differently to cigarettes.

  1.    The risk of harm

It’s conclusive that there is a significant risk of harm to bystanders from secondhand smoke from traditional cigarettes. With e-cigarettes, however, research indicates that the risk of harm from secondhand e-cigarette vapour is extremely low, making it unjustifiable to prohibit e-cigarettes.

  1.    Uptake by young people

As e-juice can contain nicotine – for those who choose to vape it – e-cigarette use is not recommended for young people, vulnerable people, and non-smokers. But by encouraging parents to quit smoking through e-cigarettes, we reduce the number of smoking role models that children see.

E-cigarettes are not a “gateway” to smoking, so policies aimed at preventing children from trying e-cigarettes should not make it more difficult for adults to quit smoking through vaping.

  1.    Supporting smokers to become smokefree

E-cigarettes are used almost exclusively by current and ex-smokers, with only a tiny percentage of vapers having never smoked before. Making vaping an easier choice than smoking, by not prohibiting their use, will prevent vapers from deciding to smoke again. Pushing vapers into the same space as smokers could have a negative effect on their efforts to quit and could undermine their progress, particularly if they are new to vaping.

  1.    Compliance with smokefree law

Smokefree policies should be clearly emphasised, with employers indicating exactly where vaping is and isn’t permitted. Everyone has the right to vape where it is not prohibited, but to prevent confusion, this should be accurately signposted to everyone in the workplace.

E-cigarettes and cigarettes are different, so they should be treated differently

Of course, no environment is the same, and there will be no standard approach that fits all. The PHE authors make it clear it would be appropriate to ban e-cigarettes in schools and nurseries. Interestingly, manufacturer JCB is just one company who that does not differentiate between e-cigarettes and cigarettes, preventing employees from using either on their premises. While it is up to the discretion of each company to create their own policy, employers should realise that vaping is different to smoking and not bound by smokefree legislation.

The Electric Tobacconist view? Allow vaping in the workplace!

We were naturally thrilled to hear that Public Health England had developed such sensible guidelines, especially considering that we’ve become used to working in a cloud of vapour every day! With almost half of the 2.8 million e-cig users in the UK having stopped smoking entirely, we can argue that permitting vaping in the workplace will have a positive effect by enabling them to stay smokefree. The tobacco policy manager of Cancer Research UK, George Butterworth, agrees. He says that while it’s “understandable that many people and business may not know how to deal with [e-cigarettes]”, due to them being a relatively new product, the evidence conclusively shows that they are much safer than tobacco and can help people give up a “deadly addiction”. If your employer treats smoking and vaping the same way, show them the guidelines from Public Health England and persuade them to review their policy! Buy the best e-cigs in the UK from the Electric Tobacconist