Unlike smoking which is defined both clinically and in-law, e-cigarette use (commonly referred to as ‘vaping’) is not covered by smoke-free legislation. That said, according to guidance published by Public Health England on 6th July 2016, it cites that approximately 2.8 million adults now use e-cigarettes, set against a backdrop of 8 million smokers. This PHE report is entitled ‘Use of e-cigarettes in public places and workplaces’ and provides advice on the uses of e-cigarettes to inform workplace policy makers. The PHE has ambitious aims to ‘secure a tobacco-free generation by 2025’.
As with all policies, an E-cigarette policy should be reviewed based on changing regulations or even emerging evidence relating to the use of e-cigarettes on health, of not just the users’ but the bystanders too.
Putting the arguments aside as to the e-cigarette usage versus tobacco, as with all policies, an e-cigarette policy must reflect the environment you are operating in; policies to guide staff working in a school may be slightly different to policies for staff working in a manufacturing environment. For example, it might be rational for a school to prioritise the risk of youth uptake or the normalisation of vaping and therefore decide to treat e-cigarettes in the same way as other smoking or age-restricted products where as a manufacturing organisation may prioritise workplace health and safety issues and prohibit users of both, onsite.
The PHE guidance lays down five principles to help guide the creation of a ‘vaping’ policy:
- Make clear the distinction between vaping and smoking
Avoid using smoking terminology when referring to e-cigarettes, i.e. use ‘vaping’ not ‘smoking’. Also be clear on your policy and ensure it is communicated appropriately before any disciplinary action is taken.
- Ensure policies are informed by the evidence on health risks to bystanders.
Consider the risks in your operating environment but also other considerations that may lead you to prohibit e-cigarette use on-site such as professional etiquette or commercial considerations.
- Identify and manage risks of uptake by children and young people.
- Support smokers to stop smoking and stay smoke free.
Consider introducing a separate ‘vaping’ area that is separate from any existing designated smoking areas.
- Support compliance with smoke-free law and policies.
Raise awareness to support available for smokers and vapers.
Click the link for PHE advice on the use of e-cigarettes in public places and workplaces PDF