Vaping… it could be harmful in more ways than one!
By Adam Flight The total number of e-cigarette smokers in the UK has climbed from 700,000 to two million in the past two years, according to anti-tobacco charity Ash. A recent survey conducted by PMI Health Group, stated that over half (58%) of UK businesses haven’t introduced a policy on the use of e-cigarettes, with 53% unconcerned over ‘vaping’ among staff. Many employers are unsure what policy to implement because e-cigarettes are still relatively new and their effect on health is not widely known or agreed upon. Employers need to be aware of their common law and statutory duties to protect the health and safety of their employees. Some employees may try to argue that their employers should allow them to use e-cigarettes in the workplace as a supportive measure to assist them in giving up smoking. However, it could upset other employees particularly if they are pregnant, trying to give up smoking or are concerned about the unknown effects of vapour from e-cigarettes. Some versions use USB ports to charge, which, if plugged into work computers could result in a breach of the employers IT policy. Another factor to be aware of is the risk of using incorrect chargers or over-tightening connections to rechargeable batteries, with recent news stories stating that the battery powered electronic versions have been known to explode, resulting in starting fires, causing injuries and in one case causing a death! Whatever employers decide about e-cigarettes, it is advisable to provide employees with clear workplace policies as well as links to or information about the support available for employees wishing to give up smoking in an effort to promote a healthier workforce. Continuous health crazes and medical warnings seem to occur daily in the news and figures suggest that vaping isn’t just a fad. Employers are best advised to put a policy in place detailing their attitude to vaping, before they get their fingers burnt.