What is an e-cigarette? A typical e-cigarette consists of three main components: a battery, an atomiser and a cartridge containing nicotine. Most replaceable cartridges contain nicotine suspended in propylene glycol or glycerine and water. The level of nicotine in the cartridges may vary and some also contain flavourings. Some e-cigarettes also have an indicator light at the end that glows when the user draws on the device to resemble a lit cigarette. When a user sucks on the device, a sensor detects air flow and heats the liquid in the cartridge so that it evaporates. The vapour delivers the nicotine to the user. There is no side-stream smoke but some nicotine vapour is released into the air as the ‘smoker’ exhales.
Are e-cigarettes safe to use? A draft review by the World Health Organisation’s Tobacco Regulatory Group notes that the extent of nicotine uptake and the safety of e-cigarettes have yet to be fully established. Certainly, in the absence of thorough clinical evaluation and long-term population level surveillance absolute safety of such products cannot be guaranteed. By comparison, the harm from tobacco smoking – the leading cause of preventable death in the UK – is well established.
What is the legal status of e-cigarettes? The legal status of e-cigarettes varies around the world. In some countries (e.g. Denmark, Canada, Israel, Singapore, Australia and Uruguay) the sale, import, or marketing of e-cigarettes is either banned, regulated in various ways, or the subject of health advisories by government health organisations. In others (e.g. New Zealand) e-cigarettes are regulated as medicines and can only be purchased in pharmacies. The UK has few restrictions on the sale and use of e-cigarettes.
Should we ban the use of e-cigarettes in our community facility? This is ultimately a decision for the individual Management Committee. Where a decision is taken to ban it, it is suggested that a clear rationale is provided. Below is some suggested text that can be adapted to fit your situation:
“Electronic Cigarettes (e-cigarettes) The Management Committee has given serious and lengthy consideration to the subject of whether or not the use of e-cigarettes should be permitted on hall premises. We have studied relevant documentation from both the British Medical Association and ASH (Action On Smoking And Health).
The ban on smoking in public places has reinforced in many people’s minds that such behaviour has gone from a normal, widely accepted activity to one that is abnormal and unaccepted. There are real concerns that e-cigarettes will undermine this process, threatening the now established practice of smoke free public places.
We have taken the decision to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes within the building, hence applying the same restrictions on them as are in place for the use of normal tobacco cigarettes. This decision has been taken in order to:
- Protect others from being exposed to e-cigarette vapours;
- Ensure their use does not undermine existing restrictions and give the message that it is now acceptable to smoke on club premises; and
- To prevent their use from becoming a source of conflict between users and between users and members of staff, whom we cannot reasonably expect to ‘police’ such a situation.
The Committee would like to thank members and guests for their co-operation in this matter.”
With thanks to Glen Marriott, Community Buildings Advisor, Northamptonshire ACRE for the use of his original article.