Is E-Cig Vapour Harmful to My Non-Vaping Friends?
Referred to as a lethal cocktail of more than 4,000 irritants, toxins and cancer-causing substances by the NHS, second-hand smoke exposes bystanders to many harmful effects. Misconceptions surrounding vaping and e-cigarettes have led many to wonder whether second-hand vapour is equally harmful.
The risks of smoking
According to ASH – a team of dedicated tobacco policy experts working to address the tobacco epidemic and advocate for policy measures to reduce the effects of tobacco – smoking increases the risk of developing over 50 serious health conditions. These include cancer, heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
ASH also state that the life expectancy for smokers is around 10 years less than that of non-smokers, making it the largest preventable cause of health inequalities. Quitting, on the other hand, has immediate health benefits including increased lung function and decreased risk of heart attack according to ASH.
Are e-cigs safe?
Electronic cigarettes are regulated in the UK and are compliant with the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).
E-cigarettes deliver nicotine in a non-combustible form, making them up to 95% less harmful than cigarettes according to Public Health England. A recent trial comparing e-cigarettes to nicotine-replacement therapy (NRTs) also found that e-cigs are nearly twice as effective as NRTs such as patches and gum when paired with relevant behavioural support like those offered by the NHS.
Is e-cig vapour harmful?
Since e-cigarettes produce vapour rather than smoke, the risks of smoking traditional cigarettes don’t apply to vaping. That is not to say, however, that vaping is without risks. Research into the risks of second-hand vapour is ongoing, and studies have different findings.
According to research funded by the British Heart Foundation and undertaken by the University of Dundee, vaping may be less harmful to blood vessels than smoking cigarettes. As part of the study, participants experienced improved blood vessel health within just one month of switching from tobacco to e-cigarettes.
According to the NHS, there is no evidence so far to suggest that second-hand vapour can harm the people around you – a stark contrast to second-hand cigarette smoke, which poses serious risks to others.
Some health professionals advocate for more research into the long-term impact of vaping. Since e-liquids contain varying levels of nicotine, studies have found that vaping can release small amounts of nicotine into the atmosphere. It is for this reason that some health professionals recommend avoiding vaping around pregnant women, babies and children to minimize the risk until more research surfaces.
It’s important to note, however, that the NHS has found limited evidence to support these claims. Experts from the National Health Service also go as far as to suggest that any possible risk posed by second-hand smoke is minute in comparison to second-hand smoke.
Are e-cigs bad for asthma?
Despite these findings, there are some exceptions in the case of bystanders with asthma and other respiratory conditions.
According to Asthma UK, vapour can trigger asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing. The British Lung Foundation concurs that those with lung conditions can be made worse by vaping, just as it can by environmental triggers such as cold air, dust and pollen.
With this in mind, it’s always best to exercise caution when vaping around asthmatic friends or those with respiratory conditions.
To summarize: are e-cigs safe?
The purpose of vaping is to offer smokers a less harmful alternative to tobacco products. E-liquids contain varying levels of nicotine, to allow ex-smokers to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms before ultimately quitting for good.
Unlike cigarettes, electronic cigarettes deliver nicotine in non-combustible forms and are therefore up to 95% less harmful than cigarettes according to Public Health England. E-cigs and the various vaping products are also compliant with the Tobacco Products Directive which sets high standards for safety and quality.
When it comes to vaping around others, vapour can affect those suffering from lung and respiratory conditions just as the cold weather, dust and pollen can trigger attacks. Though some health professionals suggest that second-hand nicotine consumption should be something to be mindful of, the NHS has found limited evidence to support these claims.
Overall, the risks posed by second-hand vapour are minimal compared to those of second-hand smoke, just as e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than traditional tobacco products.
With non-compliant vape products slipping through the cracks, the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has called for tougher action against resellers of non-compliant disposable vape products.
Be sure to shop with reputable vape brands to avoid consuming any harmful chemicals that are not regulated by the TPD.