Second Hand Vaping Vs Second Hand Smoking
When non-smokers are around smokers, they breathe smoky air. Some has been in the smokers’ lungs, and some of it is straight from the burning end of the cigarette.
This is called second-hand smoking, or passive smoking. Passive smoking has been identified by organisations such as the NHS as harmful for non-smokers, especially children.
Vapour looks like smoke, and to people who don’t understand vaping it could raise alarm bells. Fortunately, both the science and the research tells us that we don’t need to be concerned.
Vapour is not smoke, and is much less harmful than smoke
When you smoke a cigarette, you produce smoke. As the smoke cools down, it produces thousands of chemicals, tar and dozens of carcinogens. It is the tar and carcinogens that cause harm, not the nicotine.
In contrast, when you vape you do not burn anything. There are far fewer carcinogens in vapour, which is why the government says vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking. Vapour does contain nicotine, but this is not the cause of smoking diseases.
This has been confirmed by a number of studies. For example, a study by Czogala et al found that second hand vapour does not contain tobacco-related toxicants.
No side stream
Cigarettes emit a constant stream of smoke, even when they are not inhaled. This is known as a ‘side stream’. In contrast, vape devices do not emit a sidestream of vapour.
Vapour dissipates more quickly than smoke
What official sources say
A number of trusted UK sources and charities have confirmed that second hand vapour is not a concern. For example, the NHS says:
“There is no evidence so far that vaping causes harm to other people around you. This is in contrast to smoking, where exposure to secondhand smoke is known to be very harmful to health.”
Public Health England agrees, stating:
“Unlike cigarettes, there is no side-stream vapour emitted by an e-cigarette into the atmosphere, just the exhaled aerosol… Our 2018 report found there have been no identified health risks of passive vaping to bystanders and our 2022 report will review the evidence again.”
When you should be careful
We’ve seen that when you vape, you are emitting something with far less harm than smoke. You don’t emit any sidestream vapour, and what vapour you do exhale vanishes very quickly.
It is a good idea to consider some other points though.
First, if someone has a lung condition such as asthma, they might be sensitive to the vapour that you breathe out.
Second, some people may not want to smell the flavour that you are vaping.
Thirdly, some people may not be educated on the relative harm of vaping to smoking. They may object to you vaping because they think it harms them.
If you are happy that vaping has helped stop you smoking, you might want to pay a bit back. A good way to do this is to make sure your vaping habits are kind and considerate to others.