Using e-cigarettes could be banned in communal areas of Epping Forest council housing under new plans.

People will also be forbidden from charging the devices from council-owned computers, as part of an Epping Forest District Council crackdown on ‘vaping’.

The proposals come as part of a new Smoking and Vaping Policy, which will be debated next week.

Other changes in the policy include banning vaping from all council workplaces and vehicles being used for council business – even privately owned ones – and stopping the use of e-cigarettes in other council-run properties.

These include the communal areas of Norway House, the council’s homeless hostel, and museums and leisure centres around the district.

The policy was drafted after a survey of 270 council staff members, 11 per cent of whom smoke and six per cent vape.

A report says: “EFDC acknowledges that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking and may be an aid to quitting smoking, however it also acknowledges that the health effects of passive vaping are not known.”

Any smoking or vaping breaks taken by council staff will be deducted from their working hours, with disciplinary action against anyone who breaks the rules.

The report adds: “Vaping is significantly safer than smoking and those that choose to vape as a means of quitting smoking should be encouraged to do so.

“However this does not mean that the majority of staff, who have expressed their preference not to be exposed to vaping products, should have their views ignored.”

The ban on charging e-cigarettes from council computers has been proposed after reports of devices catching fire or exploding when used with incorrect adaptors.

The council’s cabinet will vote on the proposals at a meeting at 7pm next Thursday (April 7), at the civic offices in Epping High Street.