Vaping and the workplace

As vaping is becoming more popular as an alternative to traditional cigarettes, it's crucial for employers to consider the requirements of their workforce. Employees may face unique challenges and opportunities when giving up smoking, and employers can play a pivotal role in supporting them.

In this post, we will explore how vaping can be used as a tool for smoking cessation, as well as the ways in which employers can help their employees on their journey to become smoke-free.

Is vaping less harmful than smoking?
Vaping is considered less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes because it doesn’t involved burning tobacco, which means that tar and carbon monoxide, the primary substances behind smoking-related illness are not produced.

E-cigarettes work by heating up e-liquid, creating a vapour that's inhaled by the user. This vapour is free from tar and carbon monoxide, unlike cigarette smoke. The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities advise that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking and is therefore a much less harmful alternative.

Vaping as a tool for smoking cessation
Vaping is becoming an increasingly popular tool for smoking cessation, as smokers often face challenges when trying to quit smoking, including nicotine addiction and habitual behaviour.

Vaping provides a way to satisfy nicotine cravings without the harmful effects of tobacco smoke, making it a useful choice for those attempting to quit smoking. The hand-to-mouth action associated with smoking can also be replicated through the use of e-cigarettes, helping to address the behavioural component of smoking.

Another advantage of using an e-cigarette as a smoking cessation tool is the greater control it offers over nicotine intake. E-liquids come in a range of nicotine strengths, enabling smokers to gradually reduce their nicotine consumption, and even to stop using nicotine altogether.

Vaping has been proven more effective than NRTs
E-cigarettes have been recognised as a promising tool for quitting smoking, with studies suggesting that they are more than twice as effective than Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs) such as patches and gums.

Unlike NRTs, e-cigarettes can provide a similar experience to smoking by delivering a nicotine hit without the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. This is especially beneficial for smokers who have a high dependence on nicotine and struggle to give up smoking due to the habitual aspect of the behaviour.

The greater effectiveness of e-cigarettes over NRTs may be due to the fact they closely mimic the experience of smoking and provide a more satisfying nicotine hit, making the transition from smoking to vaping easier.

Workplace difficulties
Resisting the urge to smoke can be challenging, especially when having to utilise designated smoking areas during the process of becoming smoke-free.

Research conducted by Public Health England revealed that utilising designated smoking areas can make it harder to quit smoking, as the exposure to smoke and the scent of cigarettes can trigger cravings.

Vapers can also be exposed to secondhand smoke if they are required to use smoking areas, which can lead to a detrimental impact on their overall health and wellbeing.

How to make the workplace accessible to vapers
Creating an accessible workplace for vapers is crucial for improving employee satisfaction and wellbeing.

One effective way to achieve this is by providing a designated vaping area, which can make vapers feel more comfortable using their e-cigarettes at work, helping to remove the stigma associated with vaping. By creating a supportive environment for those trying to give up smoking, employers can show that they value the wellbeing of their employees.

For employers who choose to allow vaping indoors, it's important to ensure that it does not negatively impact non-vapers. One way to achieve this is through the use of etiquette agreements, where vapers agree to use discreet devices and avoid blowing large clouds of vapour. By setting clear expectations and guidelines for device usage, employers can create a more inclusive and comfortable environment for all employees.

Supporting colleagues and employees
Supporting colleagues and employees during their attempt to give up smoking can greatly improve their chance of success. Quitting smoking can be challenging, especially for those who have formed habits associated with smoking, like taking cigarette breaks with friends and colleagues.

To help employees break out of these routines, creating a designated vaping area can be beneficial. It allows them to update their friends, family, and colleagues on their journey which can help them stay accountable.

By providing this support, it can increase their chance of success by helping them to avoid triggers that are related to smoking. A workplace environment that promotes quitting smoking can inspire others to do the same, leading to enhanced overall health and productivity.

As vaping continues to grow in popularity, it’s likely that more and more workplaces will need to consider how to accommodate vapers. By taking a proactive and inclusive approach, employers can create a workplace that supports the health and wellbeing of all employees.