Thursday, 11 September 2014

E-cigarettes warning for employers

Employers could be powerless to stop workers from smoking e-cigarettes in company cars, even if they have an official ‘No Smoking’ policy in place, a Shropshire employment law specialist warns.

Rules introduced seven years ago to ban the smoking of tobacco in company cars does not cover inhalation of vapour in fast-growing electronic cigarettes, explained Tina Chander, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford.

“The legislation relating to smoking in vehicles, introduced in 2007, stated that smoking was banned in all vehicles used primarily for business purposes by more than one person.

“There are various penalties for this, but employers who flout the rules could face a fine of up to £2,500. But these regulations refer specifically to the act of smoking tobacco, rather than the inhalation of vapour, which is created by an e-cigarette. And that means it is possible, under the 2007 legislation, to use them legally in a company-owned vehicle.”

Tina added: “However, if your employee is one of the estimated 2.1 million e-cigarette users in the UK, a company’s hands are not completely tied.

“If your company’s no smoking policy does not cover the use of e-cigarettes, you can still warn the driver that such behaviour will not be tolerated in future, then make amendments to your rules. You can justify this change on the basis that holding an e-cigarette while driving is a potential distraction and therefore a serious health and safety issue.

“The number of e-cigarette users is growing fast, so if you are unhappy with the idea of company car users smoking them, it is worth checking out your small print as soon as possible.

“While the law of the land is clear on the smoking of products with tobacco or tar, creating carbon monoxide in the process, it is less black and white for people who are not puffing on the real thing.”