Smoking in a public area can create an environment that is not conducive for everyone around you. Second-hand smoke (passive smoking) also has harmful effects which is why laws have been put in place to protect those in public spaces. In most countries, it is illegal to smoke in public areas that are enclosed, as well as in workplaces. England introduced legislation in July 2007 making it illegal for people to smoke in public areas. Under this legislation, people are also banned from smoking inside public vehicles such as trains and buses. Moreover, smoking areas or rooms are also no longer permitted in places of work.
GoSmokeFree.co.uk surveyed 1,000 respondents to find out if they would confront someone who lit up a cigarette in a public area and ask them to stop. Over 1 in 3 (40%) people said they would do so. Not only is smoking in public areas against the law, but individuals can also be affected by second-hand smoke and have the right to protect themselves.
When it comes to vaping in an office or work environment, the survey revealed that nearly 3 in 4 (72%) believe that vaping should be banned. Despite there being no evidence that second-hand vapour is dangerous to others, it is understandable that colleagues may not like their choice of flavours, particularly as there are some pretty unusual options available, such as Banoffee Pie!
There is also no law that prohibits people from vaping in places of work, and it falls under the discretion of employers. This is because vaping does not fall under the UK 2006 Act or the legislation that was introduced in 2007, which made it illegal to smoke in any restaurant, pub or nightclub, as well as places of work and business vehicles. This was preceded by similar bans being implemented in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Vaping is not included under these laws because no smoke is created when vaping and it does not burn tobacco. Workplace policies, therefore, decide if workers are allowed to vape at work or not and if they are only allowed to vape in outside spaces.
It is common to see people on an everyday basis smoking cigarettes outside their place of work, on the street, outside cafes and whilst waiting for public transport. Interestingly, however, only 2 in 5 people said if they saw someone lighting up a cigarette in a public area, they would confront them and ask them to put it out.
And amongst vapers, more than a quarter (28%) said that they find they are closer to work colleagues who vape too. This could because in the same way that cigarette smokers tend to bond with each other during smoke breaks during the workday, those who vape may do the same in order to take a few minutes away from the stresses of the day.
When it comes to smoking in public, 48% of smokers surveyed admit that they throw cigarette butts on the ground. Many cigarette butts end up being littered everywhere – even in water. About 4.5 trillion cigarettes are reported to be littered every year. This causes countries to spend millions to clean up this cigarette waste which contain very toxic chemicals. Vaping, on the other hand, is far less harmful to the environment– vape pens are typically refillable.
Worryingly, the survey found that over a quarter (27%) of people wrongly think that cigarettes are biodegradable. Since they are not biodegradable, this means that cigarette waste will not break down easily. A study found that it takes about two years for butts to decompose by only 38%. So, it takes many years for cigarette butts to completely decompose, which means people and the environment are exposed to the damaging chemicals from these butts for numerous years.