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E-cigarettes in the Workplace

Electronic or e-cigarettes have become extremely popular to the point where they could surpass consumption of traditional cigarettes during the next 10 years.

E-cigarettes work by vaporising nicotine-laced liquids that can be inhaled, and they replicate the effect of smoking without all the carcinogens, however, they are not recognised under the current smoking legislation. They have yet to  be covered by EU Tobacco Control legislation, and we are waiting for legislation to be changed to cover this issue. Most recently ,the European Commission published a proposal for a new EU Tobacco Products Directive which recommends that nicotine containing products (including e-cigarettes) be allowed only if they are below a stipulated nicotine threshold and carry a health warning.

What are the risks? The actual health risks have not been studied in any great depth, but given that nicotine is involved, employers should have concerns about their safety, there is also the potential fire hazard worries.

What can employers do? Most employers will have a no-smoking policy in line with the Tobacco Smoking (Prohibition) Regulations 2003, however the wording will not cover ‘vaping’ with e-cigarettes. Employers who wish to ban e-cigarettes will need to amend their current smoking policies to cover these new cigarettes, however the wording must be carefully drawn up as banning nicotine based products alone would include the use of nicotine chewing gums, patchese etc.