The Houses of Parliament should become a vape-friendly zone, as part of efforts to make vaping more acceptable around the workplace, MPs have said. There should be vaping policies for businesses and public places to help tackle ‘misunderstandings’ about the practice and to ensure it is treated separately to smoking, according to MPs on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping (APPGV). Employers should provide designated indoor vaping areas, the MPs suggest.
They believe employers should also allow vaping in all outside areas unless there is a legitimate safety or professional reason to stop it. There should also be guidelines for the ‘reasonable vaping etiquette expected from vapers’.
Similar policies for vaping in public places should also be drawn up, so that it can be done at specific indoor locations, and also in all outdoor areas unless there is a specific safety reason not to allow it. It was stated that Parliament should lead the way in catering for the needs of vapers in an age when e-cigarettes are often banned in train stations, airports, pubs and restaurants. Vaping is also routinely banned in workplaces, outside hospitals and near public buildings. Pointing out the false impression among the public that passive vaping is as harmful as passive smoking, APPGV chairman Mark Pawsey said: ‘Indeed, this lack of understanding was very evident in Parliament itself, a place many will look to for an example. There are only two designated vaping locations, and despite being a member for eight years, I still have no idea where either of these locations are.’
Both sites are outside and ‘given the size of the Parliamentary Estate could be a significant distance away from an employee or visitors’ location,’ the MPs state. The APPGV has created a new vaping policy for the Parliamentary Estate which is to be added into the staff handbook.
It also called on Public Health England (PHE) to expand its vaping awareness programme. Acas adviser Tom Neil said: ‘E-cigarettes or vaping is not covered by the current law that applies to smoking within workplaces. So employers have the freedom to decide what policies to put in place around vaping at work. ‘Businesses could decide to ban the activity altogether or to introduce areas where vaping may be allowed. ‘If employers decide to introduce a new policy around vaping, then our advice is to consult with employees or their representatives first to agree a clear policy at work.’ The recommendations come as a report by Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) found that smoking is now highly concentrated in some communities, particularly in the rented sector. The report states: ‘While 18% of all people in England live in social housing, among smokers it is almost a third. One of the reasons for this is that while smokers in social housing are equally motivated and equally likely to try to quit as smokers living in other types of housing, they are half as likely to succeed. They are also more likely to be heavily addicted to smoking.’ The report, developed with health, housing and academic experts, tenant focus groups and backed by 35 organisations, calls for action to help address smoking closer to where people live.
By Richard Hartley-Parkinson