With the news that Wetherspoons has banned the use of electronic cigarettes inside it’s public houses, you may be considering how it would be possible to ban their use in your establishment, or where you stand legally on this new form of smoking.
The numbers of people using electronic cigarettes has soared in recent years, to an estimated 650,000. E-Cigs are typically used when individuals are intending to quit smoking altogether, using these nicotine vaporizers instead of products such as nicotine patches to assist the process.
One of the problems with the use of these devices is that they look very much the same as an ordinary cigarette, the use of which is of course strictly prohibited in public spaces. The use of e-cigarettes can make the monitoring and policing smoking ordinary cigarettes more difficult, which is often a concern for nightclub, bar and restaurant owners.
This could create confusion, friction or cause customer complaints if a customer or staff member was using an electronic cigarette within a pub or bar; or of a member of staff asks a customer to stop ‘smoking’.
There is no technical requirement under the smoking laws to outlaw e-cigarettes as they contain no tobacco and do not produce ‘smoke’. Regulations within Health and Safety legislation however, does allow employers to ban them on a potential fire hazard basis. Here’s what you should be do going forward to ensure a comprehensive fire safety policy.
– Your rules on the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace should be added to your no smoking policy alongside an explanation of why this policy is now in effect, eg. fire safety regulations.
– Until your policy has been amended, there is no reason to punish an employee for using an e-cigarettes. It would be advisable to have a quiet word and explain that the policy is set to change and the use of e-cigarettes must be performed outside the work premises.