Public Health England (PHE) has published framework advice for employers and businesses to help them create their own policies on the use of e-cigarettes (vaping). Vaping is not covered by the current smokefree legislation which prohibits smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces, on public transport and in vehicles used for work and therefore it is at employers’ discretion whether to ban vaping in the workplace, or to allow it, say, in designated areas.
There are now 2.8 million e-cigarette users in the UK, the vast majority of which are smokers or ex-smokers, and therefore PHE recommends that employers and businesses should put an appropriate policy in place. PHE’s advice helps employers and businesses create vaping policies that will support smokers to quit and stay smokefree, while still managing any risks. The advice acknowledges that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, but it sets out five important principles to help guide the creation of a vaping policy based on its current knowledge of e-cigarettes.
PHE states that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking tobacco, plus e-cigarettes are helping many smokers to quit. In addition, there is currently no evidence of harm from secondhand e-cigarette vapour. There is also no evidence that e-cigarettes act as a gateway to smoking for young people. So, PHE advises that policies should take account of this evidence and clearly distinguish vaping from smoking.
The five principles are:
- Making clear the distinction between vaping and smoking.
- Ensuring policies are informed by the evidence on health risks to bystanders.
- Identifying and managing risks of uptake by children and young people.
- Supporting smokers to stop smoking and stay smokefree.
- Supporting compliance with smokefree law and policies.