About 2.9 million people in the UK are currently using e-cigarettes, and it is estimated that most people are using them as an aid to stop smoking. Statistics from Smoking England state that, ‘the use of e-cigarettes by those who have never smoked remains very rare and use among long term ex-smokers appears to be increasing’. Science and technology committee chairman Norman Lamb replied: "To simply send vapers to the cigarette shelter outside is completely counterproductive and makes it harder for people to give up.
Recently the use of e-cigarettes has been debated by MP’s, they’ve said that they are overlooked by the NHS as a tool to help people give up smoking. Also, people who vape are having to go outdoors and use smoking shelters which increases their temptation to use cigarettes again. SNP MP Carol Monaghan stated, “Putting vapers and smokers together had been likened to ‘an alcoholic being put in a pub and expected to refrain from drinking situation’.
Legislation under the Health Act 2006 prohibits cigarette smoking in enclosed public places, workplaces, on public transport and in vehicles used for work. This is based on the scientific evidence of the direct health harm caused to bystanders through the inhalation of second-hand smoke.
Whilst e-cigarette smoking is not covered by smoke free legislation, as they do not burn tobacco and create smoke. Although there is a debate surrounding the safety of e-cigarettes, Public Health England in 2015 found that based on the global peer-reviewed evidence, vaping is around 95% safer for users than smoking. Also, there is no evidence of harm to bystanders from inhaling second hand vapour and the risks to their health are likely to be extremely low.
Therefore, though it is not compulsory to provide a smoking shelter within a premises there are many benefits in doing so; it will create a designated smoking area for employees/visitors; allows for the placement of cigarette bins therefore reducing cigarette litter and keeps social/eating areas separate to those used for smoking. Introducing an area (either a room inside a building, or a shelter outside) specifically for e-cigarette users and away from the smoking shelter will help the success of those trying to give up smoking, whilst also making them feel supported in their effort to do so.