Leeds Lead The Way

Posted 27th March 2019 by Dave Cross
The smoking policy at The University of Leeds used to treat vaping the same as smoked tobacco products. It has announced an updated policy that now acknowledges the statements made by Public Health England. Vaping is to treated separately and allowed on university grounds from August.

Previously, the policy from 2016 applied to: “all types of smoked products including cigarettes, cigars, tobacco, e-cigarettes with or without vapour and any device or substance that may be used for the purpose of smoking.”

The policy meant that vaping was banned from:

  • An enclosed space or substantially enclosed spaces
  • Within all University buildings
  • At entrances to University buildings, including doorways and covered walkways
  • In vehicles owned and operated by the University
  • In leased vehicles used for University business

The university announced last week that a policy update would be implemented at the start of August 2019: “We're introducing a new policy on 1 August 2019 which states that, as well as this, between 8am and 6pm you will also be asked not to smoke on the smoke free campus. The policy does allow for vaping and e-cigarettes to be used, as the University recognise that this may be aiding people to give up smoking.”

The Human Resources department explained the change in policy and why it is supporting a tobacco harm reduction policy: “We recognise that there is a wealth of conflicting information and evidence on e-cigarettes and on their use (also known as vaping), and that their long-term impact on health is as yet unknown.”


“However, the Public Health England (PHE) position is that, ‘Vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits over continued smoking. Based on current knowledge, stating that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking remains a good way to communicate the large difference in relative risk unambiguously so that more smokers are encouraged to make the switch from smoking to vaping. It should be noted that this does not mean e- cigarettes are safe’.”

“E-cigarettes are still prohibited within buildings; the University is currently sympathetic to their use outside on the Smokefree campus. We will continue to monitor national recommendations and current best available evidence.”

Louise Ross used to lead the Stop Smoking service in Leicester. She now works as a freelance clinical consultant for the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training and as the New Nicotine Alliance’s lead on mental health matters. Louise welcomed the news from Leeds: “Well done to the University of Leeds for creating a smokefree campus but also allowing vaping because you recognise the value of switching.”

Leeds is to be applauded for taking a positive stance on helping to combat tobacco-related harm and POTV hopes other institutions quickly follow its lead.


 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker
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