The landscape for vaping seems to be built on shifting sands at the moment, with health officials and experts at each other’s throats when it comes to the benefits or drawbacks of e-cigarettes and e-liquid, so it’s not surprising that many of us don’t actual know where we stand when it comes to using our devices in public.

The report from Public Health England that declared e-cigarettes as 95% less harmful than traditional tobacco products, gave hope to vape advocates and business owners around the world, and the UK is reasonably tolerant to e-cigarettes compared to countries such as Australia, where electronic alternatives that contain nicotine are banned.

However, a lack of education and misinterpretation of facts has fostered some hostility towards vaping across wider society. But what are your rights when it comes to vaping?

Vaping in the workplace
Vaping in the workplace.

2.8 million vapers

There an estimated 2.8 million adults vaping in the UK currently, but unfortunately legislation and policy hasn’t developed to meet the rising popularity of e-cigarettes.

PHE have recently condemned councils who treat vapers the same as smokers, saying that they could be breaking the law by forcing them to cohabit with tobacco users. Around 112 councils across the UK require e-cigarettes users to share designated spaces with smokers, despite vapers being non-smokers by definition., and a survey by the Freedom Association showed that 9 in 10 local authorities made no distinction between smoking and vaping.

vape at your desk
Can you vape at your desk?

The Government has guidelines for employers on vaping and confusingly, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, but there key five steps include:

  1. Make clear the distinction between vaping and smoking.
  2. Ensure policies are informed by the evidence on health risks to bystanders.
  3. Identify and manage risks of uptake by children and young people.
  4. Support smokers to stop smoking and stay smokefree.
  5. Support compliance with smokefree law and policies.

But what if you’re out and about and wonder if you might get into trouble for using your device?

Well firstly, there is no blanket ban or law regarding e-cigarette use, this is all down to individual discretion and policy. Certain businesses or organisations may have visible signage, but if there isn’t just ask a member of staff, but remember that whilst an establishment can’t have you arrested for vaping on their premises, they do reserve the right to politely request that you leave if you break their rules.

More research and better education on e-cigarette will hopefully soften attitudes, but for now, if we all want to get along, we need to respect each other’s preferences and play nicely together.