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E-cigs and the law

Electronic Cigerettes

With the no smoking laws in place now many small business owner’s face difficulty as it is illegal in the UK for anyone to smoke in the workplace, no matter if it’s a shop, office, factory or even a works van. Similarly it’s illegal to smoke in bars, shops, restaurants and other such places.

However, there is another option that allows people to "smoke" within the workplace, meaning you don’t have to set up designated smoking areas for those employees that use them. Electronic cigarettes, also known as E-cigs, contain no tobacco and are powered by a rechargeable battery that you can charge up using either a normal wall socket or even a USB port on your pc (or via an adaptor in your car) or via one of their specially designed “charge cases”.

It seems that because they contain nicotine in a solution (at various strengths – including nicotine free – and in different flavours) there is no smoke and no smell, just a vapour created by the heat in the e-cig. It is because of the fact that there is no tobacco and nothing is lit these devices are legal to use in work and public places.

The law under the the Health Act 2006 prohibit tobacco smoking in the workplace is restricted and bans customers, members of staff, consultants and visitors from smoking in public places and on their premises.

The Health Act does not affect the use of electronic cigarettes. Using an e cigarette is not classified as ‘Smoking’ (within the legislation smoking is defined as: -

  1. smoking” refers to smoking tobacco or anything which contains tobacco, or smoking any other substance, and
  2. Smoking includes being in possession of lit tobacco or of anything lit which contains tobacco, or being in possession of any other lit substance in a form in which it could be smoked)

and as there is no tobacco, and nothing is burnt, you are not considered to be "Smoking"

In fact e-cigs are just like a regular nicotine inhaler many already use but have the added benefit of the ability to inhale a realistic cigarette tasting, visible vapor (and having something to hold in your hand) which makes them idea for someone who wants to reduce their nicotine intake and avoid the other chemicals present in more traditional cigarettes.

So you see, legally, your employees, visitors and consultants are permitted to use an electronic cigarette in the workplace including work vehicles and offices. However, your staff should check the Terms and Conditions of their employment and if appropriate, ask permission first, especially if you do not allow them to consume food or drink in the work area as depending on the type of occupation it may not be suitable for the use of electronic cigarettes while working or carrying out certain tasks.

It is worth bearing in mind however, that most e-cigs are designed to look like a real cigarette and produce a vapour that is designed to look like smoke, and because of this – you are likely to find that a bit of controversy is inevitably going to happen. Let’s face it, if you are in a public place chewing nicotine gum then nobody is going to bat an eyelid but if you are standing in the pub, pulling out an electronic cigarette and producing a cloud will draw stares and maybe a few comments about the smoking ban.

Hopefully, these comments can be easily overcome once you make people aware that you aren’t smoking a real cigarette but a modern electronic cigarette or Vaporizers and that the best e-liquid to use your in vaporizer is one that has been laboratory tested. By demonstrating that the glow is an LED and the "smoke" is just a vapour. You will probably find that people will either ask you where they can get some or will leave you alone, but be prepared for the comments and reactions.

There are many brands of E-cig available on the market now, to get an idea of which may suit you best, or to see what other "vapers" think about them, you should look at review sites that compare the various brands, like http://www.uk-ecig-reviews.co.uk/

 
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