New government plans to reduce smoking have been revealed – but will they work?
By Alex Ballinger | July 19th, 2017
Employers are being encouraged to allow staff to vape and use e-cigarettes in the office – to help them quit smoking.
The government’s Tobacco Control Plan, released this week, reminds companies that e-cigarettes are not illegal in offices and it is up to the employer to decide if they can be used in the workplace.
Published by the Department of Health, the document sets out the government’s plans to move towards a “smoke-free generation” by providing people who smoke with the tools to quit.
Priorities set out in the plan include reducing the number of 15-year-olds who smoke, reducing smoking during pregnancy and supporting smokers who are trying to quit.
Not covered by legislation
The plan says: “Public Health England has produced guidance for employers and organizations looking to introduce policies around e-cigarettes and vaping in public, and recommend such policies to be evidence-based.
“PHE recommends that e-cigarette use is not covered by smoke-free legislation and should not routinely be included in the requirements of an organization’s smoke-free policy.
“Stopping smoking is hard, and many smokers are turning to e-cigarettes to help them in their attempts.
“The best thing a smoker can do for their health is to quit smoking. However, the evidence is increasingly clear that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than smoking tobacco.”
PHE released a document last year that includes guidance on e-cigarettes in the workplace.
Risk to bystanders ‘extremely low’
The guidance says: “International peer-reviewed evidence indicates that the risk to the health of bystanders from exposure to e-cigarette vapor is extremely low.
“The evidence of harm from secondhand exposure to vapor is not sufficient to justify the prohibition of e-cigarettes. Managers of public places and work places should ensure that this evidence informs their risk assessments.”
However, the PHE guidance does say there are other reasons vaping in the office could be banned, including professional etiquette, people with asthma and possible nuisance or distraction for people nearby.
The Department of Health plan points out that over 200 deaths every day are caused by smoking and that over 10 percent of pregnant women smoke, despite risks to the health of their baby.
Smoking rates are also high among those with mental health issues or poor health.
The smoking rate amongst low earners is three times higher than it is for the highest earners.