It seems somewhat idiotic, but the rise in popularity of electronic cigarettes is leaving businesses with a bit of a dilemma: should something that is legal and does not harm others be banned? Workplaces across the UK are banning staff from using their electronic cigarette, including (but by no means restricted to) NHS Fife and Blackburn College in Lancashire.
Electronic cigarettes, as we know, have been widely available across the UK since 2006 and an huge 650,000 or so in the UK are now using them, according to the Electronic Cigarette Consumer Association.
Electronic cigarettes rather than giving off smoke release a water vapour and contain no tobacco. At this point some airlines sell them on-board planes and encourage passengers to use them in flight. But in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Israel, Singapore and Uruguay e-cigarettes are either banned, heavily regulated, or subject to government health advisories.
The Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association is arguing that employers should consider allowing staff to use them at work.
“It should be regarded in exactly the same way as having a cup of coffee on your desk at work. If that is allowed in your workplace, then e-cigarettes should be allowed too.”
President Katherine Devlin told BBC Radio 5 live:
“… it depends on the situation and whether you are in a customer-facing role…”