It’s up to licensees to create their own policy on ‘vaping’ in their premises, writes electronic cigarette firm boss Emma Logan
HARDLY a day goes by at the moment without the electronic cigarette industry hitting the news – whether it’s the way e-cigarettes are advertised, their use in the workplace or the new year resolutions of smokers to choose a healthier – and cheaper – alternative.
E-cigarettes are not a passing fad. The industry is growing fast with an estimated 700,000 people now using them in the UK, according to Action on Smoking and Health, although the actual figure is thought to be closer to 1.5 million and rising.
As more and more people switch to ‘vaping’ instead of smoking, one of the biggest areas of debate is the use of e-cigarettes in public spaces – and that includes pubs, clubs and hotels.
The hospitality industry was hit hard by the smoking ban.
Since e-cigarettes do not produce smoke (and its offensive smell) and there is no evidence that they produce any harmful second hand properties, using an e-cigarette in a pub is entirely legal under current regulations.
It is therefore up to an individual operator to create their own e-cigarette policy – and this is where uncertainty and a fragmented industry approach is creeping in.
Some uncertainty could stem from the ‘e-cigarette’ name.
E-cigarettes are actually completely different to traditional cigarettes. They are pieces of technology – electronic delivery devices for vaporised nicotine-laced liquid in a variety of strengths, including 0%.
Aside from this distinction, one of the main concerns for hospitality operators is the way e-cigarettes look and the potential to confuse them with real cigarettes. There is an argument that this presents a practical problem for staff, who have to check that customers are vaping and not smoking actual cigarettes to ensure they stay within the law.
There is also concern about how non-smoking and non-vaping customers will react to vaping in an outlet.
These are clearly real concerns for owners and managers – but does that mean that the growing number of vaping customers should be penalised with a ban, rather than supported in their efforts to switch to a healthier lifestyle? And is it the best thing for the on-trade from a business point of view as the numbers of vaping customers continues to rise?
Guidelines issued recently by ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) for the hospitality industry suggest that operators should really think about the issue and consider the specific challenges and concerns it presents.
We know that our customers are passionate about vaping and the benefits it has brought them after a switch from smoking – and that vaping after a meal or a few times during a trip to the pub is a real pleasure.
We would appeal to pub owners to take time to work out what is best for their outlet and their customers, and to consider the needs and rights of both users and non-users of e-cigarettes.
Education and better information about the whole issue – for operators, their staff and for customers – would be a great step forward in helping all sides find the best way forward.
Working in partnership with e-cigarette companies, could there be industry staff training to help manage the issue?
Some propose the creation of confined areas for vaping – much like smoking zones of old – but given that the most noticeable aspect of a cigarette is the smoke and the smell, would that actually address the issue?
Asking vapers to use an outdoor smoking area, surrounded by smokers, is the worst option, putting them at risk from second hand smoke – the very thing that they are using e-cigarettes to avoid, and the smoking ban sought to prevent.
This is a fast-paced industry but for the rapidly growing number of people who enjoy using e-cigarettes and are switching from smoking, we hope that the on-trade help to generate good ideas and sound policies that work for the industry and the public alike.
• Emma Logan is the co-founder of JAC Vapour.