New guidance from Public Health England has instructed employers to make a clear distinction between electronic cigarettes and tobacco in their workplace policies.  This guidance comes at a time when many businesses policymakers are not differentiating between the two very different products.

Public Health England, the government body that exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, has presented this new advice as a means of countering the trend of creating a dual use smoking and vaping area.

In new guidance on vaping in public places employers are advised that:

 “Vapers should not be required to use the same space as smokers, as this could undermine their ability to quit and stay smokefree.”

PHE say that employers have a responsibility to make a clear distinction between vaping and smoking as “E-cigarette use does not meet the legal or clinical definitions of smoking.”

PHE’s new policy states “international peer-reviewed evidence suggests that e-cigarettes carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes and have the potential to help drive down smoking rates, denormalise smoking and improve public health. So policies need to be clear on the differences between vaping and smoking.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at PHE said: “The evidence is clear that vaping is much less harmful than smoking and that e-cigarettes are helping many smokers to quit.

“This new framework will encourage organisations to consider both the benefits and the risks when developing their own policies on e-cigarettes. Different approaches will be appropriate in different places, but policies should take account of the evidence and clearly distinguish vaping from smoking.”

Cancer Research UK have come out in support of Public Health England’s stance, with tobacco policy manager George Butterworth saying: “E-cigarettes are still a relatively new product, so it’s understandable that many people and businesses may not know how to deal with them. The evidence so far shows e-cigarettes are much safer than tobacco and they have the potential to help people give up a deadly addiction. It’s important the benefit of using them are maximised while reducing any negative impact, and organisations need independent advice from Public Health England to set out their own policies.”

Read the government report HERE

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