The following question was recently submitted to the GCMA Members Helpdesk.
How do I go about formulating a policy regarding the use of e-cigarettes at my club. There is so much disinformation being published and I want to ensure I get my facts straight before presenting to the committee.
Public Health England (PHE) have recently published a guide containing good advice on developing a policy for the use of e-cigarettes in public places and workplaces. PHE state that it ‘is deliberately non-prescriptive, because no one-size-fits-all answer exists to the issue of e-cigarette use in public places and workplaces. Instead, by setting out some key principles for an approach that fits with our current knowledge and protects against the unintended consequences of being either too permissive or too prohibitive, it can help organisations develop their own policies.’
There are five key principles guiding the development of a policy, according to PHE, and these are as follows:
- Make clear the distinction between vaping and smoking.
Smoking is defined in law, whereas vaping is not, policies should, therefore, make clear that distinction.
Ensure policies are informed by the evidence on health risks to bystanders.
Current peer-reviewed evidence indicates that vaping is around 95% safer than smoking and there is no published scientific evidence that bystanders are harmed by inhalation of e-cigarette vapour which makes the risk extremely low, especially compared to tobacco smoke.
Identify and manage risks of uptake by children and young people.
The use of e-cigarettes is not recommended for young people and their sale is prohibited to under-18s and whilst any policy should guard against youth uptake vaping can reduce the risk to young children of exposure to cigarette smoke, therefore, this should be balanced with the need to provide an environment where it is made easy for adults not to smoke.
Support smokers to stop smoking and stay smoke-free.
To support smokers to stop it may be appropriate to encourage vaping and ensure that vapers are not banished to the same area as smokers as this could hinder their attempts to quit permanently.
- Support compliance with smoke-free law and policies.
Compliance with smoke-free requirements can be maintained and supported by emphasising a clear distinction between smoking and vaping. Managers should indicate accurately where vaping is permitted or prohibited, and communicate the policy clearly to everyone it affects.
The guide explores these five principles, and much more, in greater detail and should help managers to formulate a policy based on the known facts.