The Business Medic

E-cigarettes; what’s your policy?

Apparently sales of e-cigarettes grew by 340 per cent in 2013 and in the UK around 1.3 million people are now ‘vaping’.

The demand for e-cigarettes appears to be insatiable, although there is some doubt about their long-term health benefits.

As e-smokers are categorised by law as non-smokers, this leaves employers in a dilemma about how to handle e-smokers at work.

  • Should e-smokers be allowed to smoke at their desk or place of work?
  • Should e-smokers be required to share the same, usually outdoor, smoking areas as regular smokers?

In specific circumstances it may be reasonable to allow e-smokers to smoke at their desk or place of work. However, depending on the company culture and other factors, allowing e-smokers to smoke at their desk or place of work may not be appropriate.

Mixing e-smokers with regular smokers could violate their right to a smoke-free environment. Potentially this could give rise to grievances or at worst, claims for constructive dismissal.

The most suitable outcome to any problems associated with e-smokers would be to incorporate an e-smoking policy in to an existing smoking policy. And, if there’s an existing smoking area for regular smokers, set aside a separate facility for e-smokers.

By making these simple but effective changes, the potential for problems with e-smoking will successfully be avoided.

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