Ah, the great Cigarette Break. Who remembers the days, back in the 90s, 80s, and even earlier, when ‘just popping out for five minutes’ meant leaving your desk behind, heading out to the ground floor of your workplace, and huddling outside its front or back door? It was a great way to treat yourself to some time off from doing any work, as well as enjoying a cigarette. In its way, the Cigarette Break was an inter-company bonding experience – you could find yourself smoking next to people who were in a different department from you – as well as a great way of catching up on gossip with someone you worked with but didn’t sit that close to. You’d get to know our fellow smokers, as you had that in common with them, and routines would be established where you’d take it in turns to approach each other’s desks, waving a cigarette packet and lighter, and asking if they fancied one. Inevitably, the answer would be yes. It was a blissful way of having a screen break, and forgetting all about work for a few minutes.
These days, of course, the cigarette break is rarer than ever, what with so many people (finally) giving up the habit. But with more and more people taking up vaping instead, should it be allowed at work the way smoking used to be? Vaping site GoSmokeFree.co.uk surveyed 700 respondents and found that 1 in 4 (28%) said yes, it should be.
Currently in the UK, vaping in the workplace is a matter of discretion for the employer. Many organisations treat the use of e-cigarettes in a similar way to smoking, and only allow it in designated outside areas. Interestingly, it is not actually illegal to vape on the premises of your business or office; that’s because e-cigarettes do not come under the legal definition of ‘smoking’ which was set out under our smoke-free legislation. It’s important to remember, however, that most organisations will not allow it – for one thing, it looks bad, and as if you’re not focusing on your actual job. So for now, it looks as if we’ll just have to catch up on the results of the weekend’s episode of Strictly, or the goss about who in accounting is dating who in HR, over an outdoor vape session with our colleagues.
GoSmokeFree.co.uk also asked the question: do you think vaping products should be tax free in order to encourage people to switch from smoking. The majority, over half (59%), said yes, they should. Vaping can already be much cheaper than smoking cigarettes – basic starter kits can cost as little as £8.99 – so anything that makes it even more accessible, price-wise, would of course be welcome. And they asked vapers if they consider themselves advocates for the practice, by extolling its advantages, such as the enjoyment of different flavours, or the health benefits. Nearly half – 40% – said that they did, and were presumably happy to spread the word that it can be much less harmful for you than smoking – there is less risk of succumbing to smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
It is also enjoyable to taste; vaping flavours have come on in leaps and bounds over the years, and you can have almost anything you want, from fruit – apple, banana, pear, peach and the like – to outlandish desserts, such as banoffee pie, raspberry ripple, or chocolate mint. All that sounds much better than the taste of tobacco, with the added benefit of not making your breath smell, too.