IBVTA writes to the Chief Executive of ACAS – Update
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 was published on the ACAS website in January of 2018, regarding vaping in the workplace.
Last year, we wrote 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.
This was on the basis that their advice included the conflation of smoking and heated tobacco products with vaping, and was misleading in terms of the harm to bystanders. Our letter recommended that ACAS refer to the Public Health England (PHE) framework advice for businesses and employers, the five key principles of which, are that organisations 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.
We are pleased to see that ACAS have acted on some of our recommendations, and updated their advice. While not perfect, their advice now includes that:
- E-cigarettes fall outside the scope of smoke free legislation as the act of smoking requires a substance to be burnt. Therefore whether to allow employees to use them at work or not is up to their employer
- Some employees use E-cigarettes as part of a plan to stop smoking, so employers may want to support their use if this is the case.
- Preventing the use of E-cigarettes at work could make it harder for those who use them to stop smoking, particularly if they are required to smoke them in designated smoking areas together with cigarette smokers. Employers may want to consider organising a separate vaping areas in or near the workplace.
- An employer could allow staff to vape in the workplace, but should consider the needs of the business and the wider workforce. Where restrictions are placed on vaping, an employer should create a vaping area.
With the evidence that 47% of smokers wrongly believe that vaping is as or more harmful than smoking (1), we hope this advice goes towards correcting these misperceptions. 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.