This week it has been announced that e-cigarettes could be made available on prescription for those who are trying to quit smoking. Whilst the benefit of using e-cigarettes has been made known, for example that they are 95% less harmful than smoking, they do still carry risks. There is a call for them to be more tightly regulated including implementing a ban on them being used in enclosed or public spaces. However at the moment, the 2006 Health Act only prohibits smoking when tobacco or another substance is lit.
Previously, many employers have been confident in banning the use of e-cigarettes in their workplace and are adhering to case law in doing so. However, with the backing of the NHS and evidence to show that their use has a positive impact on those looking to quit, do employers need to change the way they think about them?
E-cigarettes may be beneficial to the health of smokers however the vapours are not proven to 100% safe, therefore non smoking employees still need to be kept safe. On the other hand if an employee is trying to stop smoking or improve their health, it may not be appropriate for you to request that employees use the already allocated smoking areas and that a separate area may need to be offered.
It is worth considering that whilst it may not be a problem at present or perhaps employees are in agreement that they can be used in the workplace, any policy needs to be fair and consistent, including being adapted as the Company grows or changes.
The decision lays entirely at the discretion of the employer and it may not have even been raised at the current time, but having a clear policy on smoking and e-cigarettes is a great place to start and keep problems at bay.
If you don't already have a smoking policy or would like help to amend or update your current policy, don't hesitate to contact us on 0845 6100651 or firstname.lastname@example.org.