Is vaping a new risk for landlords?
Monday 2 July 2018
With many cigarette smokers switching to vaping, does this pose a new risk for landlords? Dr Marewa Glover argues that it does not.
The stench of cigarette smoke lingering round a property could be replaced by the smell of freshly baked strawberry shortcake as an increasing number of smokers switch to vaping.
Vaping, which is using an electronic cigarette, is spreading because it’s much cheaper than smoking.
It is also estimated to be 95% less harmful than smoking and it’s helping millions of people around the world to quit smoking.
Yet while some landlords are allowing vaping inside in the hope that their tenants who smoke will feel supported to switch, others are extending their ban on smoking to vaping also.
It’s not clear why landlords would ban vaping. Unlike cigarette smoking, there is no health risk to bystanders from vaping.
Landlords ban cigarette smoking inside to reduce the costs of cleaning the smoke smell out of the carpet and the tar stains off the walls and ceilings.
Unlike cigarette smoke which rises, vaporised e-liquid falls and basic cleaning with detergent on a wet rag can wipe away any residue.
The risk of fire is a legitimate reason to ban smoking inside: Careless disposal of cigarette butts and people falling asleep while smoking are a major cause of house fire deaths worldwide.
In contrast, the main risk presented by vaping is that they are an electronic device containing a battery.
Mishandling batteries, using inappropriately modified devices or using the wrong charging cord can cause electronic devices to spark.
This is a risk with all rechargeable batteries and electronic devices, including phones and laptops.
Battery mishaps and electronics malfunctioning have been linked to an increasing number of injuries and house fires.
But, to date, only one house fire fatality globally has been linked to use of a modified electronic cigarette.
Landlords should take their lead from the London Fire Brigade which is trying to convince people to switch from smoking to vaping as they say it presents a greatly reduced risk of fires.
*Dr Marewa Glover is a public health researcher with a focus on tobacco control. She is also a property investor and landlord.
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