E-cigarette mayhem in the workplace

As e-cigarette usage is increasing, so are the issues relating to e-cigarettes. We’ve had a whole spate of enquiries about the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace, so we have put together a few facts, figures and guidance on the acceptance of, and use of, e-cigarettes at work.

We have also created a suggested paragraph if you want to adapt your existing smoking policy.

WHO recently released a document expressing reservations about the value of e-cigarettes and grave concerns about their risks.

For the non e-cigarette smokers

  • E-cigarettes were invented by Hon Lik in China in 2003. His father had died of cancer and he himself was a very heavy smoker.
  • Sometimes referred to as a personal vaporizer (PV) or electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS).
  • Dozens of flavoured liquids are available to buy for personal vaporisers.
  • Typically, a disposable e-cigarettes will cost around £6 and a starter kit for the more serious smokers might cost around £35-£45.
  • The refill cartridges contain nicotine in varying levels (zero, low, medium and high).
  • E-cigarettes usually deliver about the same amount of nicotine as a regular cigarette.

For those interested in workplace risk

  • E-cigarettes have not been formally tested yet, so despite early indications that they are safe (ish) this is not yet established and in the UK they are not licensed to be prescribed for smokers.
  • E-cigarettes DO contain nicotine.
  • Nicotine is highly addictive.
  • E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco.
  • The vapour given off is not dangerous to others.
  • E-cigarettes are likely to be licensed and regulated for medical use from 2016.
  • Concerns have been raised that e-cigarettes are a route into full smoking for children and young adults and therefore should not be promoted.

For those managing teams

  • Although e-cigarettes contain nicotine, there is no burning and only odourless steam is produced (It is though possible to buy nicotine free e-cigarettes).
  • Concerns have been raised that e-cigarettes ‘normalise’ smoking after years of legislation that has sought to make it less acceptable.
  • Some call smoking e-cigarettes ‘vaping.’
  • Current views on smoking in public places are very strong therefore if you allow smoking of e-cigarettes in the workplace, this might become an employee relations problem (even if it is not a legal issue).

For those drawing up workplace policies and procedures

  • Staff have no legal right to take e-cigarette breaks.
  • Staff have no right to smoke e-cigarettes in work if you choose to ban them.
  • If you choose to allow them, be prepared to deal with some staff who object and we would advise issuing information about why they are not considered harmful to others.
  • If you want to ban them, you can adapt your existing smoking policy normally very easily if you want to extend the definition of smoking to include the use of e-cigarettes and personal vaporizers.
  • Be clear about whether your ban extends to home working, company vehicles etc.
  • Be clear about whether you need to look at any drugs policy you have as clearly employees could attend work with liquid nicotine in the form of refills for their e-cigarette devices.

Our suggested wording for a paragraph to add in to your existing smoking policy

Whilst it is not a legal offence to smoke e-cigarettes in a public place, given some e-cigarettes do release a vapour or substance of some description, to ensure we maintain an enjoyable and comfortable working environment for all, the Company prohibits the use of all smoking devices on company premises. Anyone wishing to smoke these items must do so in the designated smoking areas, or alternatively off-site in their break.

For a full smoking policy or any other HR policy or procedure please contact us at Jaluch. Updating (and drafting from scratch) employee handbooks, contracts, business protection letters etc. is our bread and butter at Jaluch so why not talk to us and get it done in just a couple of weeks if it has already sat in the pile on your desk for 12 months or more!

Email us or call us today on:

London: 0207 096 3355
South Coast: 01425 479888
Thames Valley: 0118 934 9845

The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individuals matters.

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