The reaction that you may have should work colleagues use electronic cigarettes next to you in your office could vary depending upon where you work. The reason for this is that there are some companies in the UK that have actually banned their use in the workplace with several councils taking this step as well as the insurance giant, Standard Life. Somebody is going to be unhappy, it is just a case of deciding who that will be.
This does confuse people as they appear to be using legislation that was made law in 2006 whereby any cigarettes, cigars, and pipes are unable to be used in what is described as a confined space due to the effects that second hand smoke can have on others. However, these electronic cigarettes do not give off smoke and are, therefore, not harmful to others and this is the part that has led to the confusion for a number of companies.
The problem here is that employers are unable to use legislation to justify the banning as it is not actually against the law, so do they have the right to classify a user as being the same as a person that smokes normal cigarettes? Indeed, the user could even argue that it is unfair for them to be forced into being in a smokey atmosphere when they are not actually smoking and it could be detrimental to their health. Some may also view it as discouraging people to use them to try to quit smoking when even their employer is against it.
However, there is yet a further problem because we know that smoking is related to breaks from work, so if you do not allow an e-cig user to sit at their desk, then that means more people on breaks and the company becomes less productive. Yet again there is another counter-claim as people could complain that this is a form of favoritism especially if they are trying to quit smoking using other means.
Overall, this means that each company has to come up with their own solution as there is no legal support for whatever they end up doing.