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Vaping at work

E-cigarettes have provided many smokers with an easier way to quit – but despite the apparently obvious health benefits, their use in public and at work is still somewhat controversial – with no clear guidance on what employers should, or shouldn’t, be doing for ‘vapers’.

While the British Medical Association has stated that e-cigarettes should be included in the smoking ban currently in force – including prohibiting their use in the workplace, there has been, as yet, no indication from the Government that it intends to make this change. That means that it is very much down to the individual company to decide on its own policy.

As any supportive employer knows, it’s important to encourage their staff when they are trying to achieve something like stopping smoking, but whether this extends to allowing the use of e-cigarettes at work is a tricky issue.  While allowing employees to ‘vape’ at their desks could boost productivity by reducing the amount of time spent on smoking breaks, it may also be the cause of considerable workplace friction. For example, the varying smells may not be to everyone’s taste, and if others are trying to give up smoking without the use of e-cigarettes, this might make things more difficult for them. Pregnant employees may also feel uncomfortable – at present there is no clear evidence on whether e-cigarettes contain any toxic elements, and the potential impact of second hand vapour.

Other major considerations should be any potential safety implications of vaping at work, and whether your employees being seen with using e-cigarettes is the corporate image that you want to project.

In deciding on your approach, consider the following:

  • If the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace is  banned, where can users vape?
  • If employees need to leave their desks to do so, the time spent away from their desks should be monitored in the same way as with smokers.
  • Should the same approach be taken to all employees, regardless of role (i.e. customer facing or not), or should there be some flexibility?

Regular readers of these articles will know that, regardless of what approach you decide on, it’s important to make sure you have a policy, communicate it to your workforce, and ensure that it is applied consistently and fairly. If you would like assistance with implementing or updating any of your policies and procedures, please contact us on 01229 615 280 or email for a FREE consultation.

“There is evidence to suggest that good HR practice and people management in SMEs are key factors in strong business performance and can lead to increased productivity.”

- CIPD people Skills Project 2017


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