Vaping in the workplace: the pros and cons and issues around it

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No doubt about it; the UK is become increasingly health conscious, which is surely something to celebrate. Not least because, slowly, it’s seeing more and more people quitting smoking each year. And one of the most effective – and so most popular – methods smokers are choosing to get themselves off carcinogenic ciggies is to turn vaping via e-cig devices. Practical and reliable, as well as perceived as cool; vaping’s popularity is easy to understand (especially as it’s dramatically, even negligibly harmful when compared to smoking), yet it’s not all rosy – because what happens when vapers enter the workplace?

Vaping vs. smoking in the workplace

Obviously, in the UK smoking in public buildings and enclosed public spaces is now banned (thanks to the 2006 Public Health Act) and, in the vast majority of cases, this includes workplaces. However, many managers in the workplace – if not all – are increasingly introducing separate policies when it comes to vaping; no doubt they’re aware of the overwhelming scientific evidence that points to the consumption of vape juice being 95 percent healthier than the consumption of tobacco – and the fact that smokers-turned-vapers need an outlet to vape in order to get the nicotine hit they otherwise would from smoking.

From a managerial point of view, there’s a definite potential advantage to allowing vapers to vape indoors when smokers can’t. Non-smokers can develop feelings of ill-will towards those who pop out of the office every now and again for a smoke but, if e-cig users vape at their desk (or equivalent) instead, they won’t need to leave the office (and, indeed, the building) for ‘unofficial breaks’ throughout the day. Surely then that’s better for workplace morale?

The downside of workplace vaping

It’s been estimated that, over the course of a year, enabling someone to vape at their desk instead of forcing them out of the building to get their vape e liquid hit could save a company up to 40 man-hours a year. Yes, really, it could clock up to be that much time. Yet, allowing workplace vaping may not be the automatic win-win it appears to be. The problem is study results on the subject revealed two-thirds of respondents claimed they’d feel annoyed were one of their colleagues to vape at their desk.

For these non-vapers, the irritation wouldn’t so much come from the fact the vapour from e-cigs might be harmful (many presumably believe it’s not) but that it could prove distracting; not least if all the vapers in an office were to be vaping simultaneously. So, quickly, an issue of keeping happy everybody in the workplace – vapers and non-vapers – could arise.

Moreover, when consider that, according to a survey on the E Cigarette Review website, 76 percent of non-vapers/ non-smokers don’t believe that smokers-turned-vapers shouldn’t be allowed ‘vape breaks’ to enable them to vape outside of the office, the waters are muddied further. So what to do?

What’s the solution?

Let’s face it; the issue of allowing or not allowing vaping in the workplace isn’t a black and white issue. In the end, whether a manager allows it or doesn’t, they won’t be able to please everybody – they’re unlikely to find an easy, satisfying compromise happily accepted by all employees. That said, of course, not every workplace is the same; far from all contain a cross-section of people with exactly the average range of opinions on vaping that the aforementioned studies suggest exist across UK places of work.

The best bet then for a workplace manager is to test the waters, seek the opinions of employees and find out what they think and how they feel about vapers being able to consume vape e juice in the workplace. And then come to a decision – perhaps some sort of compromise that, in spite of it maybe not satisfying everybody, delivers the best solution. Fundamentally, that decision can’t allow the workplace to be disrupted and for annoyance and even contempt to breed among employees – everybody needs to understand exactly what the guidelines are and as many of them as possible need to be signed up to the decision and accepting of it.

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