UK workplace study finds people have been bullied and even fired for vaping

The authors of the study hope to enhance understanding among employers around workplace vaping and lobby for change to challenge negativity towards this habit.

James Dunworth, Chairman of E-Cigarette Direct said: “It is quite shocking to learn people have actually lost their jobs due to vaping. It is also concerning many people have experienced bullying and discrimination.

“Vaping in the workplace is a little-explored area so we devised our study to help understand the challenges faced by vapers in the working world, and gather data to help employers make informed decisions to aid staff retention, health and morale.

“We spend at least a third of our waking lives at work and our working environment has a huge influence on our health and happiness – so these issues are hugely significant for people who wish to vape while at work.”

In contrast to smoking, people are legally allowed to vape inside. E-Cigarette Direct says there is no evidence passive vapour causes harm to bystanders (1) and says the UK Government actively encourages employers to provide a smoke-free area for vapers (2).

However, E-Cigarette Direct’s research found 75% of vapers are not allowed to vape at work, unless in dedicated smoking areas. 

The company says this is in direct contravention of Public Health England guidance (now UK Health Security Agency), which states: 

“…vapers should not be required to use the same space as smokers, as this could undermine their ability to quit smoking and stay smokefree, particularly among those most heavily addicted.” (2)


Restrictions: The poll of 1,931 people across the UK found vaping restrictions were most likely to be found in Finance, Banking and Insurance (88%) followed by Government, Health and Education (86%). They were least likely to be found in Construction (44%). 

Job losses: The study found 13 people said they had been dismissed for vaping. The most dismissals had been within Government, Education, Health and Defence, with the highest rate of job loss seen in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Discrimination and bullying: A total of 17 per cent working in the Real Estate sector have actively considered changing their job because of vaping restrictions. This job sector recorded the highest level of discrimination (16 per cent) and bullying (8 per cent).

Nationally, 224 respondents of vapers felt they had been discriminated against because of vaping. Men were more likely to report being discriminated against than women.  Almost 1 in 5 people said that colleagues had reacted negatively to them vaping, while 44 said they had been bullied because of vaping.

Career prospects: 80 respondents said they had been asked in a job interview if they vaped, with 41 suspecting they were refused a role because of vaping. The same number (41) felt that their career prospects had been damaged by vaping.

More people working in the food and accommodation sector than any other employment field were asked if they vape at their job interview, with people in this sector being left with the most suspicions they had been rejected for job roles because of vaping.

Mr Dunworth said: “We found evidence of significant negativity around workplace vaping, however almost all vapers use vaping to quit or cut down on smoking or to prevent relapse. 

“We recommend employers ensure they and their employees are aware of national health guidance on vaping; it is at least 95% safer than smoking and it is the most effective and popular way to quit smoking (3). We hope our findings can lead to real positive change for vapers in the workplace.” 

You can read more about the Vaping in the Workplace study here on the E-Cigarette Direct website. Vaping in the Workplace Study

Author: Editorial Team

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