ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. A guidance has been published on the ACAS website, regarding vaping in the workplace.
We have written to the Chief Executive of ACAS to ask them if, in light of the errors within their guidance, they would be willing to review it.
Dear Ms Sharp,
The Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) is a not-for-profit, non-political trade association, representing around 300 individual businesses across the UK. IBVTA members account for more than 50 per cent of the independent market of UK manufactured and imported devices and e-liquids, making the IBVTA the largest trade association in this sector. The IBVTA is the only association dedicated exclusively to the independent sector, and as such all IBVTA members are free from any ownership or control by the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries.
There are currently at least 2.9 million vapers in the UK of whom 1.5 million have given up smoking completely. There is a large body of research to draw on associated with vaping, all of which arrives at the same conclusion – there is never a situation where it is better to smoke than to vape.
The IBVTA welcomes ACAS’ recognition of the role vaping plays in today’s society. However, it is our belief that the “E-cigarettes in the workplace” briefing has some errors. Public Health England (PHE) published framework advice for businesses and employers to help them create their own policies on the use of e-cigarettes. The framework intends to help organisations to create vaping policies that will support smokers switching to vaping and stay smokefree. The five key principles of the framework asked organisations to give consideration to the following;
i. Make clear the distinction between vaping and smoking,
ii. Ensure policies are informed by the evidence on health risks to bystanders,
iii. Identify and manage risks of uptake by children and young people,
iv. Support smokers to stop smoking and stay smokefree and,
v. Support compliance with smokefree law and policies.
It is important not to conflate smoking and heated tobacco products with vaping in the manner the your (ACAS) advice on vaping in the workplace does; which refers to “…the vapour from E-cigarettes… could potentially provide a health risk for others through passive consumption (like passive smoking)…”. With regards to the risks posed by “passive consumption”, the Government has made its position on the subject clear: “The levels of toxicants in e-cigarette vapour were very much lower than those found in conventional cigarette smoke and not considered to pose any significant passive inhalation risk”.
The Government’s position has been supported by The Royal College of General Practitioners who said: “There are no identified hazards to bystanders”. In addition, research from PHE and The University of Stirling concluded: “The evidence to date does not support a policy to prohibit vaping in public and such policies could have significant unintended consequences by sustaining the use of smoked tobacco”.
Those managing workplaces will know what is the most appropriate for their environment. Where possible the IBVTA would recommend that workplaces develop vaping friendly policies for their offices, to support their employees who looking to switch to vaping.
Incentivising vaping by creating an environment where vaping is a more convenient, as well as safer option, will help maximise the number of smokers switching to vaping. The PHE framework clearly states that it is never acceptable to require vapers to share the same outdoor space as smokers. Where a designated outdoor smoking area has been provided in a public place or workplace, vapers should not be subjected to second hand smoke, and should be allowed to vape elsewhere.
Given these concerns, the IBVTA would request that ACAS reviews its advice to employers regarding vaping in the workplace. If you have any questions about this, or vaping in general, please do not hesitate to get back in contact, we would be happy to meet if you would like to discuss this further. This letter will be made available on our site for our membership and others to read.
Gillian Eva Golden
Interim Chief Executive