Vaping at Work: The Issues

Do you vape at your desk?

There are pros and cons to vaping at work.  A research study carried out last year shows that over the course of one year, smokers work 7 days less than their non-smoking colleagues. And the reason: cigarette breaks.

Going outside for a smoke loses time and make employees less productive. So employers should be in favour of allowing vaping at work right? Wrong.

Vaping at work: The Law

Somehow it’s not that clear-cut.

Recently Philip Landau, an employment solicitor wrote an article in The Guardian about vaping in the workplace and made some valid points.

Not coming down on one side or the other, he outlined some of the major issues  and questions with regard to vaping at work:

  1. Should vapers be treated the same as smokers and asked to go outside?
  2. Would this be seen as unsupportive of vapers trying to give up cigarettes?
  3. What about ex-smokers that are not using e-cigarettes to quit? Must they be reminded of vaping/smoking constantly?

The first thing to note is that vaping in the workplace is not illegal.

The Tobacco Smoking (Prohibition) Regulations 2003 prohibits smoking tobacco in the workplace; it does not cover e-cigarettes. Vapers are legally entitled therefore to smoke in the workplace and all the employer can do is ask you to vape outside. This of course depends on what is written in the employee handbook and in the contract of employment.

The second thing to note is that there is currently a lack of regulation around e-cigarettes. This means we are waiting for the government to legislate on e-cigarettes and until then employees and employers are effectively in legal limbo.

Vapers are already going outside

From reading various forums on vaping in the workplace, most vapers are already taking their e-cigarettes outside so they don’t risk offending their colleagues. Although there is no smoke or strong smell from the e-cigarette, having the device in an office can be difficult for those who are quitting smoking or may have concerns over the safety of the device and the second-hand vapour.

As we still have no standardised testing or regulation for e-cigarettes, it’s not difficult to understand why people may have concerns about their use.

For example, according to the Guardian, Standard Life has already banned vaping in the workplace and according to, more and more employers are beginning to write new guidelines around the use of e-cigarettes into employee handbooks.

Why go outside to vape?

A recently published study in the British Medical Journal found that 37% of Irish people believe e-cigarettes are harmful. This statistic could have something to do with the confusion over what e-cigarette vapour contains.

E-cigarette vapour contains propylene glycol and glycerin, which according to ASH in the UK has no harmful side effects to bystanders.

The research was conducted to ascertain public perception about e-cigarettes throughout Europe. Interestingly the research also found that in Ireland, 45% of people surveyed were unsure as to whether e cigarettes were harmful or not.

Workplaces are banning e-cigarettes

According to the Guardian article, Councils in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle and Cheshire East are in the process of banning e-cigarettes on their premises and vehicles. The council is worried about:

“the use of e-cigarettes … in council offices and other locations, and this is causing concern among staff”.

As vaping is already banned on the grounds of all HSE buildings and on Irish Rail and bus services it will only be a matter of time before the same questions about vaping in the workplace are asked in Ireland.

So what do you think? Should you be allowed to vape indoors or join the smokers outside?

Let us know what you think.


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