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Some times this section of the website gets a little bit more serious. As vaping has blossomed and numbers of people doing it increased, companies have had to form policies on how vapers are treated at work. You have probably noticed you employer adopting a policy for electronic cigarettes and - in all probability – it has meant being treated as if you were still a smoker.
Vapers are being consigned to smoking shelters and denied the opportunity to vape elsewhere because of, what anti-vapers call, the precautionary principle. This means that until a person unnamed to their satisfaction declares vaping 100% safe people should avoid allowing its use. And employers have adopted that stance in view of the difficulty for them to discover the truth behind the science.
This means you have probably felt left out in the cold when it comes to decision-making, probably literally (except for this week). But Public Health England has given you a golden arrow for your quill.
“E-cigarette use is not covered by smoke-free legislation and should not routinely be included in the requirements of an organisation’s smoke-free policy. Vapers should not be required to use the same space as smokers, as this could undermine their ability to quit and stay smoke-free,” write the PHE in their guidance for employers.
If you are currently being forced into the smoking shed against your wishes then you might wish to draw the boss’ attention to: “E-cigarette use does not meet the legal or clinical definitions of smoking . . . Furthermore, international peer-reviewed evidence suggests that e-cigarettes carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes and have the potential to help drive down smoking rates, denormalise smoking and improve public health. So policies need to be clear on the differences between vaping and smoking.”
In advocating that British employers set up separate spaces for vapers to vape in, they say: “To maximise the number of smokers switching to e-cigarettes, vaping should be made a more convenient, as well as safer, option.”
The guidance also suggests that employers take note of the fact that vaping delivers less nicotine and therefore vapers need to vape more often than a smoker needs a cigarette. Users should be allowed extra breaks for the “frequent interim top-ups" they need, the advice says.
Commenting on the release, ECITA’s Tom Pruen said: "The guidance from Public Health England is pragmatic and sensible, and if adopted by employers will help them to better provide for the health and well-being of their staff. Allowing the use of e-cigs will benefit not just the physical health of their employees, but also boost morale and job satisfaction as well as encouraging more existing smokers to switch to the safer alternative of vaping. The guidance from PHE is another recognition of the potential for e-cigs to offer huge improvements to public health."
We can’t guarantee that your line manager will accept the points being put over by Public Health England but it can’t hurt to print out the full position statement and discuss it with them.