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e-cigarettes – Are they covered by smoking restrictions?

The harmful effects that smoking can have on your health, and the health of others is now widely understood and accepted. While the smoking of cigarettes indoors has been banned across Australia, does this ban apply to electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or ‘vaping’?

e-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat a liquid which then produces a vapor that is inhaled by the users (vaping). As it is illegal in Australia to sell or use liquid containing nicotine, many people assume that their legally-bought e-cigarettes are nicotine-free and safe to use. However, this is not necessarily the case.

The liquid used in e-cigarettes can contain a range of products including toxic chemicals, vegetable glycerine and flavourings. A recent investigation undertaken by Curtin University’s School of Public Health has further found that six out of ten ‘nicotine-free’ e-cigarettes actually contained nicotine. Given their contents, e-cigarettes are not deemed to be harm-free and could expose users (and potentially bystanders) to a range of harmful chemicals. The World Health Organisation have advised against their use due to the potential health risks having not yet been determined.

Given this, Australian indoor smoking bans have been extended to include the use of e-cigarettes. People can, however, continue to use e-cigarettes in areas where smoking is not banned.

Smokers who would like to quit should consult with their medical practitioner or contact Quitline for further information.

Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors such as government legislation changes, may not be up-to-date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.

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