Should you allow your employees to use e-cigarettes in the workplace?

E-cigarettes fall outside the scope of the smoke-free legislation.

Section 1 of the Health Act 2006 defines “smoking” as “smoking tobacco or anything which contains tobacco, or smoking any other…

substance”, and states that “smoking includes being in possession of lit tobacco or of anything lit which contains tobacco, or being in possession of any other lit substance in a form in which it could be smoked”. As such, employers can decide whether they want to allow employees to use e-cigarettes in the workplace.

Some employers allow employees to use e-cigarettes in the workplace, others prefer to ban them. Typically, the banning of them is in their smoking policy. If this is the case, its important to let employees know that their use will result in disciplinary action.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has published a briefing on e-cigarettes (PDF format, 112K) (on the BMA website).

The British Medical Association (BMA) believes that existing smoke-free legislation should be extended to e-cigarettes. They say that that whilst electronic cigarettes may help some smokers to give up, there is a lack of evidence on the health risks that they pose to the individual using them and those in close proximity.

Employers may also choose to ban e-cigarettes because some models can, particularly from a distance, look like real cigarettes, making a smoking ban difficult to police, and creating an impression for visitors, customers or other employees that it is acceptable to smoke.