Home > Use of e-cigarettes in public places and workplaces: advice to inform evidence-based policy making

Public Health England. (2016) Use of e-cigarettes in public places and workplaces: advice to inform evidence-based policy making. London: Public Health England. PHE gateway: 2016129.

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Public Health England (PHE) has published this framework advice for businesses and employers to help them create their own policies on the use of e-cigarettes. There are 2.8 million e-cigarette users in the UK and there is a need for appropriate policies in public places and workplaces. PHE’s new framework helps organisations create e-cigarette policies that will support smokers to quit and stay smoke-free, while managing any risks specific to their setting.

The framework acknowledges that workplace environments vary greatly and there is no one-size-fits-all approach; a factory or warehouse is a very different setting to a nursery school, with different considerations to make. It sets out 5 important principles for an approach based on our current knowledge of e-cigarettes.

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. In contrast to the known harm from exposure to secondhand smoke, there is currently no evidence of harm from secondhand e-cigarette vapour and the risks are likely to be extremely low. There is also no evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for young people.

Following extensive stakeholder engagement, PHE created this framework advice to give organisations 5 principles that will help guide the creation of a vaping policy that is right for them, covering the following considerations:
1. Make clear the distinction between vaping and smoking.
2. Ensure policies are informed by the evidence on health risks to bystanders.
3. Identify and manage risks of uptake by children and young people.
4. Support smokers to stop smoking and stay smokefree.
5. Support compliance with smokefree law and policies.

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