With smoking now outlawed in public and workplaces we wanted to look at the Legal and Moral implications of vaping in the workplace.
Because a vape device or e-cig does not meet either the legal nor clinical definition of smoking and as studies have suggested it carries a fraction of the risk of smoking (95% Less harmful according to a study by health officials.) We wanted to know if it was not only legally acceptable but also socially acceptable to vape at our place of work.
In our opinion it is worth considering those around you, if you are not sure if the people around you mind you vaping then simply ask, not everyone is going to be okay with thick vapour clouds being blown in their faces.
However, with a bit of compromise i think a solution can be reached that suits both vape users and employers.
Vaping indoors is legal however workplaces can request that you do not vape on the premises, although strict policies are required to create a clear distinction between vaping and smoking according to government guidelines.
With vape devices being used almost exclusively by smokers and ex smokers they have been shown to drive down smoking rates to the lowest ever recorded which if anything is good news employers, less cigarette breaks mean more productivity and a vapour cloud will not leave a lingering stale tobacco smell in the office which is a breath of fresh air for everyone.
Your Work Environment
The main concern for vaping indoors is the “Second hand smoke” although now i guess it should be called second hand vapour.
Studies have shown that the vapour produced from an e-cig is only fractionally as harmful as smoking a cigarette and that this figure is reduced even more once the vapour is second hand.
In Fact the government recently acknowledged that vape products have reduced the overall intake of second hand smoke in the youth population, so if nothing else this switch has benefited our children.
However just because vapour isn’t as harmful as cigarette smoke doesn’t mean everyone is going to be okay with you vaping around them, especially in an enclosed office or work environment.
Some people may have an issue with you vaping around them in general while others just may not like the smell of your chosen vape liquid, therefore you should always be considerate of your colleagues before taking a hit.
If your workplace has prohibited vaping as well as smoking Government guidelines state that vape users should not be forced to share the same space or shelter as cigarette smokers, because the majority of vape users are ex smokers the Government feels this could undermine their attempt to quit.
This is a real plus for vape users as if you are trying to quit being surrounded by your biggest temptation is no holiday for anyone, we feel this ruling is essential and may encourage others to make the switch from cig to vape once they know they can indulge temptation free.
It is also worth paying attention to the thought of dread you get as a vape user being surrounded by smokers. Non smokers in the presence of vape users may have the very same concerns so there is some common ground between you.
The Push Back To Smoking
From an employer’s perspective placing restrictions on vape users could very well encourage a push back to smoking.
Government health officials have stated that it is up to individual organisations to choose their own policies when it comes to vaping, however also went on to state that the laws banning smoking do not extend to nor should they cover e-cigarettes and vaping devices as they are a huge push forward on government calls for a smoke free generation.
In 2017 alone the amount of smokers in the UK has reduced by 4.5% to the lowest level ever recorded this statistic alone owes a lot to the mass adoption of vape devices providing a healthier and friendlier alternative to stop smoking aids of the past.
Demonising vape use could very well have a negative impact on your business as opposed to the presumed positives due to lowering staff morale and pushing them back into the same category as smokers.
British Gas have released an informative 5 point guide on Vape policy writing in the workplace which is available here. This short guide highlights both the positives and negatives of vape usage from the viewpoint of one of the nation’s largest employers making it a great start point for both small and large business owners.
Negative Impact On The Workplace
While we feel vaping should be perfectly acceptable anywhere as long as we are considerate to those around us there are some negatives to consider from a business perspective however we feel these are heavily outweighed by the positives.
- Non vaping employees may feel uncomfortable
- Vaping does leave a scent in the air however it will not linger like tobacco
- Vaping exposes other employees to toxins in the vapour
- Prohibiting vaping could lead to legal complaints from vapers
As an employer it is worth considering that each of these negatives has a valid counter argument and will inevitably lead to low productivity and low morale from your vaping staff.
While there are many arguments both for and against vaping in the workplace we fall on the side of “for” after all happy staff are productive staff and employee morale is key to running a good business.
Ideally vapers should conduct themselves as if they are an ambassador for vaping after all it’s the community that builds the reputation.
Always be considerate of your surroundings including bystanders and if in doubt ask if they mind.
If the vaping community can avoid being demonised we might just stay on track creating a smoke free generation.
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