Vaping at work
The Department of Health has published a Tobacco Control Plan for England following the publication, on 6 July 2017, of advice from Public Health England (PHE) on the use of e-cigarettes in public places and workplaces .
These documents highlight that the use of e-cigarettes, commonly known as vaping, is significantly less harmful than smoking tobacco (based on current evidence). This extends to second-hand vapour as well. Vaping is unlikely to fall within the ambit of the statutory smoking ban. On this basis, and in the context of facilitating vaping for the purposes of reducing smoking levels, the PHE advice is that vaping should not routinely be included in an organisation's smokefree policy and organisations should consider whether to permit vaping on their premises. Despite this there is acknowledgment of factors that count against doing so (for example, commercial considerations or professional etiquette and possible effects of vapour on asthma sufferers).
There is no intention expressed in the Department of Health's plan to require or promote vaping in the workplace.
Neither of these documents are likely to alter employers' discretion to ban vaping (in addition to the statutory ban on smoking). While vaping may be less harmful than smoking, employers should carefully risk assess before permitting it. Indeed, employers may encounter strong resistance from workforces if they seek to permit vaping where it is has been banned to date.
This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.