E-cigarettes may be more harmful than we think, researchers have warned in a new study that may cause employers to review their corporate vaping policies.
The findings, which were published in the journal Thorax, have concluded that vaping disables key immune cells in the lung that keep the air spaces clear of potentially harmful particles, and as a result can boost inflammation in the body.
In July 2016, there was an article published on the Gov.uk website – Use of E-cigarettes in Public Places and Workplaces. Advice to Inform Evidence-based Policy Making. The advice said that, in contrast to the known harm from exposure to second hand smoke, there was at that time no evidence of harm from second hand e-cigarette vapour and the risks were likely to be extremely low.
However, the new findings have prompted researchers to suggest that while further research is needed to better understand the long-term health impact of vaping on people, e-cigarettes may be more harmful than we think, as some of the effects were similar to those seen in regular smokers and people with chronic lung disease.
With the fast evolution of technology, some workplace policies may become outdated. As such, employers should regularly review, amend and update their policies. Some employers may find that the smoking policies they have do not cover e-cigarettes at all.
If, as an employer, you decide that you want to introduce policies to control vaping on the work premises within working hours, then you should decide whether you want to treat vaping in the same way as smoking. It may be recommended that the company support employees who choose to vape by assigning them a separate vaping area to the smoking area, to prevent passive smoking and so that smokers trying to quit will not be tempted. Whether you choose to introduce a policy for vaping or not, you should consider the views and comfort of all your staff: smokers, vapers, and non-users. Allowing vapers free range may affect the comfort of non-users and may not be practicable in certain workplaces, such as an office.
When making a vaping policy you should consider the following.
- Make a distinction between smoking and vaping and make sure that the policy sets rules on both practices.
- Consider bystanders, and non-users and their comfort. Ensure smoking/vaping areas are not in close vicinity.
- Adapt your policy to limit exposure and uptake of vaping by children, young people or young workers, eg if the role involves working with children your policy may ban smoking and vaping in their view.
- Conduct fact-finding investigations if you receive allegations of smoking in breach of the workplace policy, as some e-cigarettes can be easily mistaken for cigarettes.
if you require advice, please contact Walker Health and Safety Services.