Unlike smoking, it is not against the law to Vape in a workplace. e-Cigarettes or Personal Vaporisers are battery powered devices that produce vapour (hence the term vaping) which is commonly laced with nicotine and is used as a replacement to smoking cigarettes.
Acas, who provide free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law say:
“Employers should decide whether to allow employees to use E-cigarettes, and similar products, in the workplace or ban them as they would ordinary smoking implements. E-cigarettes fall outside the scope of smoke free legislation as the act of smoking requires a substance to be burnt. Therefore, whether to allow employees to use them at work or not is up to the employer.”
So, it’s really down to you as the employer to decide whether or not to allow Vaping in the workplace. There are a number of compelling arguments for and against:
The Pros and Cons to Vaping in the Workplace
Pro: Some employees use E-cigarettes as part of a plan to stop smoking, so employers may want to support their use if this is the case.
Con: The vapour from E-cigarettes can be rather pungent and quite often large clouds of vapour are generated which might be annoying to some employees in the workplace.
Con: Some E-cigarettes look very similar to real cigarettes so employees or customers may think that real cigarettes are being smoked in the workplace
Managing the decision
If you do decide to allow Vaping at work, line managers should be aware of who may be using them within their teams. It is best to make it a rule that approval is needed to use E-cigarettes in the workplace.
You may want to consider organising a separate vaping area in or near the workplace, if you provide one it is important it is understood that employees who vape should not have more break time than colleagues who do not and that abusive of this will result in disciplinary action.
Acas go on to say: “Employers should be clear about what their rules on the use of E-cigarettes at work are. If they have a policy on smoking or one on drugs and alcohol then they could include a paragraph about E-cigarettes and vaping in there. When introducing new rules, employers should first consult with any recognised union or elected representatives, and they should speak with all employees to make sure they understand what the new rules mean and that they apply to them.
Where vaping is restricted, employers may want to put up signs or notices in the workplace which make it clear where it is allowed and where it is banned. These should include any rules that relate to the use of E-cigarettes at work.”
In addition to the practical employment law advice above, we have some safety advice for you to consider. Should you decide to allow Vaping in the workplace, there is a high chance that employees will want to charge their devices. This poses a large electrical safety risk, as cheap, online bought e-cigarettes and their chargers or the use of incompatible chargers, regularly make the news as the cause of fires. In 2015 the BBC reported that over 100 fires had been found to be started by e-cigarettes, read more here. This worrying statistic gives us grave cause for concern, so as well as introducing vaping policy, we strongly advise you also include policy on the charging of these devices! In fact this policy can be extended to cover any personal electronic chargers as the danger doesn’t lie solely with e-cigarette chargers, fake or replica phone chargers and even laptop chargers have been found to explode or short out. To stay safe we advise that only portable appliances that have gone through your PAT Test should used in a workplace! A PAT Test will include a visual inspection, your PAT Tester will spot if an incompatible charger is being used or if the charger is faulty.
Until next time… stay safe