Smoking bans in Australian office buildings, schools, shopping centres and other public spaces have existed for quite some time now, so we are all used to not being allowed to smoke at work.
However, vaping in the workplace and other public places is a topic which has been the cause of a great deal of controversy of late. Have you been tempted to pull your e cig device out of your pocket at work and puff away but perhaps been worried about the consequences? As this is a concern expressed by many in the vaping community we have decided to shed some light on this topic for our fellow vaping enthusiasts.
Earlier this year, Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham attracted a great deal of media attention by vaping in Parliament. The stunt was an attempt by Mr Buckingham to highlight the holes in laws governing the use of e cigarettes.
The stunt prompted outrage from the government benches. But what Buckingham was doing in the NSW upper house was not illegal. If you live in Queensland it is illegal to vape at work. The state of Queensland has legislated electronic cigarettes under the same tobacco control laws as traditional cigarettes. This means that you are not permitted to vape in smoke-free areas including workplaces.
It is legal to vape at work in all other Australian states. However, it is important to be aware of the laws regarding the use of e cigarettes containing nicotine. The only way that you can lawfully buy and use electronic cigarettes containing nicotine is by importing them for personal use under the Therapeutic Goods Administration personal importation scheme, which requires a medical prescription.
Your workplace does have the right to implement policies which ban the use of electronic cigarettes in the same way that they can introduce smoke-free policies on tobacco use. Therefore, it is important to be aware of your workplace’s policy on the use of e cigarettes.
Some Australian workplaces do allow employees to vape indoors or on the premises. If you do want to use an e cig device at work you should find out what your organisation’s policy is on electronic cigarette use.
Some organisations have policies restricting vaping in order to present a more professional appearance to customers and clients. Some workplaces have allocated indoor or outdoor ‘vaping zones’ for staff. In some cases organisations allow employees to vape in the normal working area (including at your desk).
If you want to vape at work it’s a good idea to follow these general guidelines:
Ask management or HR if there is a vaping policy and what the rules are. Ask your boss and colleagues if they mind your vaping in the space that you share.
If you create big clouds when you vape it is likely to attract the attention of your workmates so where possible try to keep the amount of vapour that reaches the people around you to a minimum. You might like to find a spot in your workplace to vape where you are less likely to bother your colleagues. If someone files a complaint your organisation could implement a policy banning the use of e cigarettes in the workplace.
If one of your colleagues asks you to stop vaping you should respect their wishes. You could vape somewhere else at your workplace where you are unlikely to disturb your workmates. If you attempt to minimise the disturbance to your colleagues (or the customers) when vaping, there is more chance you will continue to be allowed to do so at work.
Vaping at work has the potential to be an effective way to raise awareness and educate your colleagues about e cigarettes. You may have the chance to explain what you are doing and answer any questions your co-workers have about vaping.
Once your colleagues understand your habit and reasons for vaping they may be more accepting and supportive of your choice to vape at work. If they are smokers themselves, they might even consider switching to e cigarettes!
If you have any questions about vaping in the workplace, feel free to pop into our Melbourne vape shop or give us a call on 03 9528 2548.