Electronic cigarettes have been causing quite a stir in the United Kingdom lately, but the newest debate hinges on whether public service employees should be allowed to enjoy an e-cig break instead of smoke break. Police officers were recently granted the privilege to use e-cigs as long as they weren’t in front of the public. But some critics contend that e-cigs must be kept out of the public eye if employees want to use them. The latest e-cig argument started after a tram driver used her e-cig behind the wheel. A passenger snapped a photo and reported her to Metrolink management, complaining that there should be a policy in place to keep e-cigs off the trams.
The passenger chose to remain anonymous, but told Manchester Evening News about the experience. “What I saw wasn’t acceptable. I couldn’t believe it when she pulled out an e-cigarette. My first thought was for passenger safety – it’s clearly a distraction and the driver shouldn’t have anything that’s distracting.”
Marie Daly responded to the complaint on behalf of the Metrolink Human Resources Department. She explained that they do have rules in place and e-cigs were only allowed in designated areas, however they review each case individually because of the ambiguity surrounding e-cigs.
Daly went on to say that Metrolink management had spoken with the vaping tram driver “to ensure their understanding of our position regarding this subject.” While Metrolink remains vague in their rules about e-cig use on the job, it’s a positive situation when they haven’t banned them or issued any regulations.
This same issue was recently a hot topic when officials had to decide how to handle law enforcement officers who wanted to vape on the job. After a July 2 meeting, it was decided that Cambridgeshire police can use their e-cigs freely as long as they don’t have a public audience.
A spokesman for the Cambridgeshire Constabulary said, “Following discussion which considered both pros and cons of both visibility and health it was agreed that use of electronic cigarettes would be permitted on police premises although not in front facing areas such as enquire offices.” You can view the official minutes on the constabulary’s decision here.
The e-cig debate will likely continue for a long time to come. At the root of the issue is a lack of education about how e-cigarettes work. In most cases, once a person understands that e-cigarettes do not produce any secondhand smoke or odor, they are willing to overlook their use. For now, officials will continue to deal with situations that require new regulations. It seems that e-cigs are still coming out on top, at least with the Cambridgeshire Constabulary and the Metrolink. Do you think public officials should be using e-cigarettes on the job?