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Is it dangerous to breathe in secondhand vaping smoke? | Passive Vaping Explained

Note: This CBD Benefits Guide has been co-authored by Dr Andres Maldonado MD, in line with the ‘Vape and Juice Medical Review Policy’. See our Medical Editorial Team.

Have you ever had someone in the street get annoyed at you vaping near them? Or been told by friends or family that you should vape outside because they are worried that it is dangerous to breathe in secondhand vaping fumes?

In this article, we explore passive vaping in detail. We look at the effects of passive vaping on those around you and whether it is the same as passive smoking.

What is in second-hand tobacco smoke?

Secondhand cigarette smoke contains the same chemicals as the smoker would inhale. These include nicotine, carbon monoxide, benzene, formaldehyde, cyanide and a whole host of cancer causing chemicals. Even though the effects of the chemicals are reduced, they are still toxic.

When breathing in secondhand smoke, children can suffer with conditions such as ear infections, respiratory problems and infections as well as increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In adults, secondhand smoke can be the cause of heart disease and lung cancer, stroke among other issues. 

Is passive vaping dangerous like passive smoking?

We know that passive smoking is harmful. For this reason it is banned in enclosed public spaces, including bus shelters and public transport. Vaping is also banned in these areas, however, the effects of passive vaping are not the same as passive smoking.

Here’s why. 

  • Investigations have proven it

In an experiment comparing the air quality of cigarettes and e-cigs it was found that vapor emissions indicated no apparent risk to human health-based on the compounds analysed.

  • Vaping is 95% safer than smoking

Public Health England have declared vaping is 95% safer than smoking tobacco. We know that secondhand smoking is dangerous, so if vaping is safer for the user, then it is also safer for those who are around the clouds.

Vape cloud doesn’t contain the chemicals that tobacco does when it burns. Tobacco contains a number of known carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals) which affect both the user and those who are inhaling passive smoke. 

  • Vaping contains Propylene Glycol (PG)

Propylene Glycol (PG) is used in hospital air-purifying systems due to its antibacterial properties.

  • Vaping fumes are safer than the air in most cities

According to studies it has been found that secondhand vapor is actually safer than the air quality in most cities.

What do expects say about passive vaping?

In a blog post by public health expert Dr. Michael Siegel, he writes “To date, there is no evidence that there is any substantial exposure to harmful chemicals in real-life situations that most adults and children encounter. On the contrary, there is evidence that second hand “vapour” dissipates rapidly and that exposure to nicotine and other chemicals is very low.”

In 2013 there was a study by a team of American and Polish scientists, who measured aerosol particles, carbon monoxide, nicotine and VOC’s from different vape pens. They found nothing to raise any concern.

In the study they write: “Using an e-cigarette in indoor environments may involuntarily expose nonusers to nicotine but not to toxic tobacco-specific combustion products.” They also admit that “more research is needed to evaluate health consequences of second hand exposure to nicotine, especially among vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women, and people with cardiovascular conditions.”

Passive vaping – Tips 

Our best advice is, be a courteous vaper. Avoid using your big cloud kit in public spaces as this might cause some upset among those people around you. Instead, use a discrete vape kit when out and about. 

If someone does raise concern, listen to them and consider sharing some of the information on passive vaping. Ask them to share their research and facts with you too. 

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