Despite the fact that there are no known harms to bystanders from the aerosol from vapour devices, and that many people are using them to quit smoking, only one council, Enfield, has a policy which encourages the use these devices, which are estimated to be a total least 95% safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes.
The key findings of the report are:
- 112 councils require vapers to use only the designated smoking areas to vape
- 335 councils have the same, or essentially the same policy for vaping as for smoking
- 1 council, the London Borough of Enfield, allows vaping indoors and actively encourages smokers to switch to vaping
- 3 councils allow vaping at desks but only because they don't have a policy
Clearly there are situations where for either operational, public image, or other reasons it may be inappropriate to allow staff to vape, but there is absolutely no excuse for a blanket ban in line with smoking legislation, much less a policy which requires non smokers or those trying to quit with vapour devices to go to a smoking shelter to vape. Indeed on that subject Public Health England says the following:
"It is never acceptable to require vapers to share the same outdoor space with smokers. Where a designated outdoor smoking area has been provided in a public place or workplace, vapers should be allowed to vape elsewhere."
The Public Health England advice entitled 'Use of E-cigarettes in Workplaces' lists five key considerations when setting policy:
- Make clear the distinction between vaping and smoking
- Ensure policies are informed by the evidence on health risks to bystanders
- Identify and manage risks of uptake by children's and young people
- Support smokers to stop smoking and stay smokefree
- Support compliance with smokefree law and policies
The policies set by the vast majority of local authorities in the UK ignore some or all of the recommendations by Public Health England, have no justification and will discourage people from switching from smoking to vaping. This is unacceptable. The Freedom Association report includes a handy list of local authorities and their policies - we suggest you locate yours and write them a polite and appropriate letter. If you live in the London Borough of Enfield please write to them to congratulate them for being a beacon of common sense in a sea of lazy thinking. The full report is available here.
Update: our friends at Vapers in Power have made it easy for you to do just that: