Should it be treated the same as smoking?
A recent survey showed that 75% of vapers are not allowed to vape at work. Plus, they have to follow the same rules as smoking in the workplace. This includes only being able to use their e-cig in designated smoking areas. Not helpful for those trying to quit as it surrounds them with cigarette smoke. these conditions also lead to 18% of those surveyed to being temped to going back to smoking.
Public Health England have made it clear that there is a difference between smoking and vaping, both clinically and legally. However, public opinion on vaping is still very outdated. Also, a study by Igor Burstyn showed that inhaling passing vapour is not harmful.
Employers should look closely into this as more than 40% said they would be more likely to stay in a job that allowed vaping at work. Providing a more open workplace for those trying to quit could be a good way of improving staff retention. Plus, it can also improve morale in the workplace.
Vaping Endorsed By UK Health Bodies
According to a recent clinical trial, smokers who used vaping as a cessation tool were twice as likely to quit. As well as this, the latest guidance from NICE and NCSCT advises stop smoking services to offer vaping. The government should highlight this to encourage businesses to be more accepting of vaping if they are to achieve their smoke free by 2030 target.
Public Health England also state it is not acceptable to force vapers to share the same outdoor space as smokers. They should be allowed a space to use their e-cig away from an allocated smoking area. Being around cigarette smoke is a trigger for those trying to quit. This can result in a relapse where they turn back to smoking.
Other Factors Related To Vaping At Work
Although a change in attitude towards vaping at work is needed, there are other views to take into account. This topic mainly looks at the views of vapers and smokers. Whereas the majority of people affected by this (although minimally) are non smokers/vapers. Although studies indicate passive vapour doesn’t cause harm, non vapers shouldn’t feel uncomfortable in the workplace. Employers should find the right balance to please both stakeholders. Some employers may allow vaping in the office but this shouldn’t be expected to become normal. However, they should provide a space to vape that is away from smoking areas.
Cloud production is one of the concerns when vaping indoors. Other employees don’t want a cloud blown in their face when they are trying to work. Most vapers are sensible and will try to be as discreet as possible. However there are always those who won’t be as considerate. This can make it difficult when trying to advocate for e-cigs at work. Luckily most start with an MTL kit, This type of device produces less vapour. Direct lung vapers on the other hand will have to be careful how much vapour they are producing. To make this work in the office there will need to be limits to keep everyone happy.
This change will not happen overnight. However, with employers losing an estimated £8.7 billion in productivity a year due to smoking, it may force their hand. This may also encourage employers to promote vaping to help employees quit smoking.
. E-cigarette Direct. 2021 ‘Vaping in the workplace study’ <https://www.ecigarettedirect.co.uk/research/vaping-work-study>
. Public Health England 2016 ‘Use of e-cigarettes in public places and workplaces. Advice to inform evidence-based policy making. <https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/768952/PHE-advice-on-use-of-e-cigarettes-in-public-places-and-workplaces.PDF>’
. ‘Peering through the mist: systematic review of what the chemistry of contaminants in electronic cigarettes tells us about health risks’ Igor Burstyn 2019 <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24406205/>
. ‘A randomised trial of e-cigarettes versus nicotine replacement therapy’. Peter Hajek, PhD, Anna Phillips-Waller, BSc, Dunja Przulj, PhD, Francesca Pesola, PhD, Katie Myers Smith, DPsych, Natalie Bisal, MSc, Jinshuo Li. MPhil, Steve Parrott, MSc, Peter Sasieni, PhD, Lynne Dawkins, PhD, Louise. Ross, Maciej Goniewicz, PhD, PharmD, Qi Wu, MSc, Hayden James McRobbie, PhD. New England Journal of Medicine. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1808779 <https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1808779>