Are Second Hand Vaping Fumes Harmful?

As the populations awareness of the detrimental effects of secondhand smoke became clear, country-wide action was implemented to reduce the risks, such as a ban on smoking in public buildings which was made active from 1 July 2007.

With more smokers looking to give up their bad habit, recent years have seen the world-wide sensation that is vaping come into force. An NHS-recommended product to help stop smoking, these fun-flavoured cigarette alternatives are giving reformed smokers the nicotine hits they crave without the carcinogens.

Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are not banned in public places. Although some workplaces have prohibited their use, this is not a legal requirement. This means that those jumping on the vaping bandwagon are free to fulfill their craving anywhere, anytime.

For many non-smokers getting the wafts of cotton-candy, strawberry and vanilla flavoured fumes, this raises the question of the effects of breathing in vaping fumes second hand, and whether they are in any way harmful.

Disclaimer: SmokShop is not medically qualified to provide advice about the health risks and benefits of vaping. Please consult a doctor or trusted medical resource for more information.

What is e-cigarette vapour?

The cloud of smoke left behind by vapers is technically aerosol which, like any fume, disperses through the air. This means that anyone close enough will most likely see, smell and even taste the cloud of vapour.

The vapour produced by e-cigarettes is created by the heating of the e-liquid cartridge within the vaping pen. Unlike the combustion of traditional cigarettes to create smoke, e-cigarette vapour doesn’t produce any harmful tar or carbon monoxide.

What’s in e-cigarette vapour?

If the harmful carcinogens found in traditional cigarettes aren’t found in e-cigarettes, then what is in the vapour that they produce?

  • Propylene glycol
  • Glycerin
  • Nicotine
  • Flavourings

Propylene glycol and glycerin are the base components of all e-cigarettes. The nicotine, flavourings and any other chemicals that particular vape cartridges contain will depend on the flavour and brand.

Is secondhand e-cigarette vapour harmful?

The answer to this question is a grey area. Not because the results are inconclusive, but because vaping is such a new trend. The long-term effects of inhaling second hand vapour from e-cigarettes can’t be known for another 10 years or so, however a lot of research has been carried out into the instant effects of vapour inhalation.

No evidential threat to bystanders

The environmental exposure of vamping has been measured, with no evidence of lasting impact. This is because very low levels of fumes are expelled during vaping, which is not enough to have a lasting impact. This is helped by the fact that the vapour expelled is not considered harmful to the same extent as traditional cigarette smoke and 93.8% of the inhaled nicotine is retained by the user.

What’s more, the amount of smoke expelled by these cigarettes is much less than those which combust as vape pens do not leave a trail, only producing fumes when actively used.

The next steps

There’s no hard evidence to say that second hand vaping fumes are harmful. But vapers should be respectful of non-smokers and those who take issue nonetheless.

Vapours should always be thoughtful of those who object to breathing in vaping fumes, making an effort not to encroach with their fumes. What’s more, avoiding vaping around those with asthma is advised, due to the evidence that some brands and flavours can irritate sufferers airways.

Vapers should also be considerate when in the vicinity of children and babies. There’s currently no second hand vapour studies which categorically prove e-cigarettes are safe for children and babies, who have a smaller lung capacity than adults.

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