The German risk advisory service, BfR, has been assessing what’s in the typical e-cigarette. The analysis is preliminary and precautionary in nature.
Besides nicotine inhalation (which users seem to accept as a risk) there are potential problems with: direct contact with the nicotine solution; dependency leading to tobacco use; potential health effects from unknown gimmick ingredients such as menthol, and poisoning of by-standers.
“The BfR therefore recommends that e-cigarettes should be treated like conventional cigarettes in non-smoking areas and that e-smoking is banned in such zones.”
The recommendation from us would be that companies review their smoking policy. Of particular concern is that there is an argument put forward that use of these aerosol devices helps people to quit tobacco smoking. Therefore, the story continues, they should be permitted in the workplace. This argument has not been accepted by medical authorities who would normally be very keen to wean people away from tobacco. There is no evidence that they help people to quit.
At the annual BMA conference in 2012, public health doctors agreed that electronic cigarettes should be included in the ban on smoking in public places.http://bma.org.uk/working-for-change/improving-and-protecting-health/tobacco/e-cigarettes
Public reaction thus far seems to take the view that if users of e-cigarettes are not using tobacco, with all its carcinogenic contents, then there must be a health benefit. They also seem to accept that use would help a person quit.
Regardless of the relative merits of the above, the Radar journal has reported that nicotine solution is being sold in lethal quantities per bottle. The advice from Radar is that bottles of nicotine solution should not be brought to work to fill or re-fill e-cigarette cartridges.
Review of the smoking policy would be a matter for employers, in consultation with insurers.