Construction companies in the UK have been told that they should not treat smoking and vaping in the same way.
The Construction Index is a building industry and construction company directory and magazine.
The Index said that the new guidance ran counter to common practice in the construction industry where, according to its research, employers generally regarded vaping no differently to smoking.
However, PHE says specifically that electronic-cigarette use is not covered by smoke-free legislation and should not routinely be included in the requirements of an organization’s smoke-free policy.
‘Vapers should not be required to use the same space as smokers, as this could undermine their ability to quit and stay smoke-free,” the PHE says.
And it further says that employers should make a clear distinction between vaping and smoking. ‘E-cigarette use does not meet the legal or clinical definitions of smoking, it says.
‘Furthermore, international peer-reviewed evidence suggests that e-cigarettes carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes and have the potential to help drive down smoking rates, denormalise smoking and improve public health. So policies need to be clear on the differences between vaping and smoking.’
Professor Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at PHE, was quoted as saying that the evidence was clear that vaping was much less harmful than was smoking, and that electronic cigarettes were helping many smokers to quit.
“This new framework will encourage organizations to consider both the benefits and the risks when developing their own policies on e-cigarettes,” he said. “Different approaches will be appropriate in different places, but policies should take account of the evidence and clearly distinguish vaping from smoking.”
PHE said also that there was currently no evidence of harm from second-hand electronic cigarette vapour and that the risks were likely to be extremely low.