Does Your No Smoking Policy Cover E-Cigarettes?

E-Cigarettes at work – allowed or not allowed?

As more and more people turn to e-cigarettes to curb their nicotine addiction, now is the time to review your company’s no smoking policy.

Points for action:

  • The decision is a timely reminder to all employers that if they have not already done so, they should decide whether to allow employees to smoke e-cigarettes, personal vaporizers (PVs) or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) in the workplace or ban them as they would ordinary smoking implements and update their no-smoking policies accordingly.
  • Employers may want to put up signs or notices in the workplace which make it clear where smoking is allowed (if this is the case) and where it is banned. These should include rules for cigarette smokers and rules for e-cigarette smokers.
  • Smokers should generally aim to maintain the same amount of break time as colleagues who do not smoke. However employers may also wish to consider setting out rules about smoking breaks, including how many can be taken, how long the break may last and any requirements about covering the work whilst on a break.

Non compliance

  • It should be made clear in the rules that any unauthorised or excessive taking of smoking or e-smoking breaks will result in disciplinary action.
  • It should be made clear that any smoking of cigarettes or e-cigarettes in a prohibited area at work will result in disciplinary action.
  • Employees should be reminded that it is a criminal offence, which will attract a fine, to smoke in a designated smoke free public area.

Key points

E-cigarettes fall outside the scope of smoke free legislation as the act of smoking requires a substance to be burnt, so employers can choose whether to allow employees to smoke them at work or not. However consideration should be given to the effect this may have on non-smokers.

Allowing the use of E-cigarettes at work

  • Some employees use e-cigarettes as part of a plan to stop smoking, so employers may want to support their use if this is the case.
  • However, the vapour from E-cigarettes might be annoying to some employees and could potentially provide a health risk for others through passive consumption (like passive smoking) as the long term health effects of e-cigarettes are unknown.
  • Some e-cigarettes look very similar to real cigarettes so employees or customers may think that real cigarettes are being smoked in the workplace. If smoking e-cigarettes is allowed at work, line managers should be aware of who may be smoking them within their teams. It is best to make it a rule that line management approval is needed to smoke e-cigarettes in the workplace.
  • If e-cigarettes are permitted, some employees may argue that real cigarettes should be allowed too.

At HRizon we appreciate that you want to focus on the ‘day job’ and that in most instances you will have neither the time nor inclination to get involved in the complexities of developing a no smoking policy so we are offering a fully outsourced service to guide you through the process and take the workload off your desk. Contact us for more information.