Secondhand cigarette smoke is a combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers. Exposure to secondhand smoke has been linked to cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome. But what about exposure to secondhand electronic cigarette smoke?
When people smoke tobacco products, a myriad of chemicals are released into the air. It’s those chemicals, not the addictive nicotine, that pose a danger.
“The dangerous components are the other 6,000 things that are in tobacco smoke, and they are created because tobacco is burned,” says Dr. Taylor Hays, director of Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center.
But does vape smoke have similar effects as those who are around tobacco smoke? Dr. J. Taylor Hays says that there isn’t any data on secondhand vape smoke, which is actually an aerosol.
“These little particles that are inhaled by the vaper are also released into the atmosphere, and if they are an irritant to the lungs — which we know they are in people who vape — then in secondhand vaping, there probably also are irritants.”
With flavorings like vanilla, cinnamon and grape, e-cigarettes may smell a whole lot better than a burning tobacco product, but that doesn’t mean they are safe to be around.
“We haven’t developed the data yet to say that it’s clearly dangerous, but it probably is,” says Dr. Hays.