Vaping in the Workplace

By Neil Goddard

Vaping in the workplace

For newcomers to e-cigarettes, there is some uncertainty about where vaping is or isn’t allowed. Many people may be unsure about whether vaping at work is acceptable.

Smoking conventional cigarettes in the workplace was once the norm. In the 1960s and 70s, smoking was permitted in most public places in the UK, like buses, trains, cinemas, restaurants, pubs, and at work. But during the 1970s and 80s the negative health effects of second-hand cigarette smoke became apparent, and campaigners began calling for legislation to restrict smoking in the workplace.
During this time, many offices banned smoking in the workplace altogether, or else created designated smoking rooms or smoking areas away from people’s desks. However, smoking in places of work was not completely outlawed in the UK until 2007.

Vaping at work – the facts

The 2007 smoking ban came into place before the advent of e-cigarettes in the UK and doesn’t place any restrictions on vaping in the workplace. But this doesn’t give vapers a free pass to vape as they please at work.

Most office environments will have their own rules about vaping in the workplace, in order to create a comfortable and pleasant environment for all employees. While there is no evidence that second-hand vapour causes any ill effects1, some people may prefer to work in a vape-free environment, and your employer has a duty of care to create a comfortable working environment for all.

Of course, not everybody works in an office, or even in an indoor space. For those who work outdoors or in a public place, the restrictions around vaping at work may differ.

How to find out if vaping at work is allowed

It is recommended to ask about vaping in the workplace before doing so. Even if you have seen someone else vaping at work, don’t assume this means it’s allowed! Speak to your line manager or HR, who will be able to tell you the company policy towards vaping at work.

If vaping is allowed at work

The main thing to think about when vaping at work is to be considerate of those around you. Although vape clouds are generally pleasant-smelling and inoffensive, not everybody wants to be surrounded by clouds of vapour while working.

Choose a vape juice that doesn’t have too strong a flavour or produce thick clouds If you can, vape near an open window or away from others Take vape breaks instead of vaping sporadically at your desk People who suffer with respiratory conditions like asthma could be affected by vape clouds, so keep this in mind and ask those in the vicinity if they mind you vaping close to them.

If vaping isn’t allowed at work

Find out where you can go to vape outside – many workplaces will have a designated area. Take considerate vaping breaks with minimal interruptions to your working day.

Heated tobacco at work

Heated tobacco products like IQOS are relatively new in the UK. Because the tobacco is heated but not burned as it is in conventional tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars, heated tobacco does not fall under the smoking ban. Instead, users should follow the same guidance as vaping at work and always ask beforehand.


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