Smoking has been banned in England in enclosed or substantially enclosed public places and workplaces since 1 July 2007. Workplaces include work vehicles if it is used by more than one person.

The smoking ban applies to all substances that can be smoked and includes cigars, herbal cigarettes and water pipes such as shisha. The smoking ban only applies to premises to the extent they are enclosed or substantially enclosed so in simple terms there must be a roof and at least 50% surrounding walls. Employers therefore can provide a shelter outdoors for employees to smoke, or another designated area.

However, the smoking ban does not apply to e-cigarettes because they simulate the act of smoking, by releasing nicotine but do not actually contain tobacco. They do not contain a material that is smoked, but instead, they give off a vaporised mist.

Special consideration therefore needs to be given to where e-cigarettes users can go. The vaporised mist can leave a smell that other workers may not like. It may also create the wrong impression to allow e-cigarette use indoors, in work vehicles, or in front of customers. From a distance it may look like the person is smoking.

As lots of people use e-cigarettes as a tool to give up smoking, it may not bode well to ask smokers and e-cigarette users to share the same shelter or designated area. Employers could consider providing a separate area such as a room indoors for e-cigarette use.

Our top tips for employers:
• Employers do not have to allow extra smoking breaks for smokers or e-cigarette users and such rules should be clearly set out.

• Employers should be clear about what their rules on the use of e-cigarettes at work are. If they already have a policy on smoking or one on drugs and alcohol then they could include a paragraph about e-cigarettes in there.

• Employers should put up signs or notices in the workplace which make it clear where smoking and e-cigarette use is allowed (if this is the case) and where it is banned.

• The rules should also state any unauthorised or excessive taking of smoking or E-smoking breaks and any smoking of cigarettes or E-cigarettes in a prohibited area at work will result in disciplinary action.

If you require assistance please contact either Kerry Curd (01626 202406 kerrycurd@wbw.co.uk) or James Edmonds (01626 202329 jamesedmonds@wbw.co.uk) for a no obligation consultation.