Sunday 11 August 2013

Guidance on e-cigarettes in the workplace

Some clients have asked whether or not e-cigarettes should be allowed in the workplace.
There is no definite position on this, but the advice from the BMA and ACAS is that they should be excluded in the same way as conventional cigarettes. ASH believe otherwise.
Sources of this are as follows:

British Medical Association advice
There is emerging evidence that e-cigarettes are being used by some smokers to help cut down or quit; yet, they are subject to limited regulation, are not licensed as a medicine in the UK, and there is no peer-reviewed evidence that they are safe or effective for this purpose.
While e-cigarettes have the potential to reduce tobacco-related harm (by helping smokers to cut down and quit), a strong regulatory framework is required for the sale and use of e-cigarettes to:
  • ensure they are safe, quality assured and effective at helping smokers to cut down or quit
  • restrict their marketing, sale and promotion so that it is only targeted at smokers as a way of cutting down and quitting, and does not appeal to non-smokers, in particular children and young people
  • prohibit their use in workplaces and public places to limit secondhand exposure to the vapour exhaled by the user, and to ensure their use does not undermine smoking prevention and cessation by reinforcing the normalcy of cigarette use.
Health professionals should encourage their patients to use a regulated and licensed nicotine replacement therapy to help quit smoking. Where a patient is unable or unwilling to use or continue to use an approved and tested nicotine replacement therapy, health professionals may advise patients that while e-cigarettes are unregulated and their safety cannot be assured, they are likely to be a lower risk option than continuing to smoke.
There is little real-world evidence of harm from e-cigarettes to date, especially in comparison to

ACAS advice
Employers may want to consider whether such devices are likely to upset other workers, particularly if they are pregnant or trying to give up smoking themselves - or whether it's in keeping with the professional image of an organisation, especially if clients or members of public are likely to come into the office.

Since the smoking ban came in, it's broadly recognised that smoking is now associated with break times rather than work time. Employers may be reluctant to allow e-cigarettes into a working environment and prefer them to be treated in exactly the same way as conventional cigarettes. There's also a risk that e-cigarettes might undermine efforts to reduce smoking by normalising cigarette use at work.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) position
There is little real-world evidence of harm from e-cigarettes to date, especially in comparison to

 ASH supports regulation to ensure the safety and reliability of e-cigarettes but, in the absence
of harm to bystanders, does not consider it appropriate to include e-cigarettes under smokefree regulations.

Although e-cigarettes do not produce smoke, users exhale a smoke-like vapour which
consists largely of water.Any health risks of secondhand exposure to propylene glycol vapour
are likely to be limited to irritation of the throat. One study exposed animals to propylene
glycol for 12 to 18 months at doses 50 to 700 times the level the animal could absorb
through inhalation. Compared to animals living in normal room atmosphere, no localised or
generalised irritation was found and kidney, liver, spleen and bone marrow were all found to
be normal.

The fact that e-cigarettes look similar to conventional cigarettes has been said to risk
confusion as to their use in public places, such as on public transport. However, given
that the most distinctive feature of cigarette smoking is the smell of the smoke, which travels
rapidly, and that this is absent from e-cigarette use, it is not clear how any such confusion
would be sustained. Furthermore, the absence of risk from “secondhand” inhalation of vapour
from e-cigarettes has been described as an “often unconsidered advantage” of e-cigarettes.
As an alternative to smoking, e-cigarettes are preferable in situations where secondhand
smoke poses serious health risks to others, such as in vehicles or in the home.

The following organisations have banned e-cigarettes in their trains or public houses:
First Capital Connect, Greater Anglia, C2C, JD Weatherspoon.

In June 2013 it was announced that the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), are to regulate e- cigarettes as medicines in a move to make these products safer and to reduce the harm of smoking. It is likely that the new legislation will come into effect in 2016.

No comments:

Post a Comment