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Is Secondhand Vape Smoke Bad for You?

Is Secondhand Vape Smoke Bad for You?

Even if your tween or teen isn’t one of the more than 1 in 10 middle or high schools students vaping, some of their friends probably are. And beyond high school, college-aged adults (18-24) are the most likely group to use e-cigarettes among all adults. By now, we all know that secondhand smoke from regular cigarettes can be harmful, but what about e-cigarettes?

As they increased in popularity, vaping products, or e-cigarettes, were thought by many to be a safer, less addictive alternative to regular cigarettes, and were even offered as a smoking cessation tool by many. Research now shows that young people who vape may be more likely to start smoking cigarettes. And e-cigarettes have their own health risks, starting with the way they work.

Despite the word “vape” in the name, the devices don’t produce harmless water vapor. Instead, you’re inhaling an aerosol mist as the battery in the e-cigarette heats up a liquid containing nicotine, flavorings, and other chemical additives. One study from John Hopkins University found that there are thousands of chemical ingredients in vape products, most of which still not identified.

Reports show that these aerosols contain heavy metals and ultrafine particles that can enter the lungs, even in those nearby the person vaping. This exposure was linked with an increased risk of bronchitis symptoms and shortness of breath. The aerosols from vaping also include cancer-causing substances like benzene and diacetyl, which have been associated with “popcorn lung,” a rare condition that results from damage of the lungs’ small airways and makes breathing difficult.

It may be tricky depending on the setting, but try to limit your exposure to secondhand vape smoke. If you want to quit vaping, there are various smoking cessation tools targeted to adults, like nicotine replacement therapy, which hasn’t been FDA-approved for those under 18. More support specifically for teens is emerging, like the quitSTART app and free tobacco cessation counseling through the National Cancer Institute’s online chat, LiveHelp.