• August 7, 2020

Vaping is not smoking

A group of cross-party MPs is today calling for the UK Parliament to act as an example for other public places by becoming vape friendly, according to a press note issued by the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA).

Current arrangements in the parliamentary estate, which includes both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, are said not to cater adequately for the needs of vapers.

The call is being made as part of the Vaping in workplaces and public places report, which was due to be presented today at the launch of the re-named All Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping, chaired by the MP for Rugby, Mark Pawsey (pictured at the launch of a previous report.)

It comes in the wake of increasing evidence that vaping can be used for smoking cessation. Public Health England says that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking and has helped three million smokers to quit or reduce their habit.

However, many vaping policies are not helpful, with some employers banning vaping in workplaces or even during working hours. Most recently, Dundee Council in Scotland threatened employees with disciplinary action if they vaped during working hours.

Key recommendations made in the report include:

  • Employers should have a specific workplace vaping policy that balances the needs of current vapers and smokers looking to switch to vaping with those of non-vapers.
  • Public places should have specific vaping policies that are separate from smoking regulations.
  • Public Health England (PHE) should expand its vaping awareness program to correct some of the public misconceptions around vaping and so-called ‘passive vaping’.
  • Vapers should vape in a responsible way that respects non-vapers.

Pawsey was quoted as saying that employers had an opportunity to help the Government achieve its ambitious target of reducing the incidence of smoking to under 12 percent by 2022. “For this to happen, it is imperative that we encourage employees trying to quit through vaping, by offering flexible workplace vaping policies,” he said.

“But it makes no sense for politicians to ask UK businesses to become more vape friendly, whilst our own workplace does not practice what we preach. There are just two vaping areas in Parliament, but most MPs and staff members who vape are not even aware where these are located. Often this leads to people simply going to a smoking area to vape which is incredibly counter-productive and contrary to guidance from Public Health England. Having Parliament becoming vape friendly would send a strong message about the benefits of vaping for those people who smoke at workplaces and public places across the UK.”

Meanwhile, Sarah Jakes, chair of the New Nicotine Alliance, described the UK as a world leader in vaping regulation. But she said the potential health benefits for smokers would be lost if people were restricted from using them everywhere.

“This report sets out sensible guidelines to help workplaces and other public spaces set policies which will encourage switching to safer alternatives, whilst considering the needs of those who would prefer to avoid the vapor,” she said.

Dan Marchant, board member of the UK Vaping Industry Association, made the point that while vaping was not smoking, time and again vaping was treated in the same way as smoking in workplaces, stations, pubs and sporting arenas across the UK.

“This is usually because of a misconception that inhaling second-hand vapor is the same as passive smoking, or because vaping is viewed as an anti-social behaviour,” he said. “In fact, there is no scientific evidence of harm from second-hand vapor, and most responsible vaping happens without bystanders even noticing.”