Uncovering the myths about passive vaping

The harmful effects of breathing in second-hand smoke from tobacco cigarettes are well documented - in the last three decades multiple public health campaigns have helped people understand the danger of passive smoking in the home and car.

In the case of passive smoking from e-cigarettes, it's still too early for research studies to say what, if any, impact passive smoking from e-cigarettes has long-term.

There's plenty of confusion and misinformation out there, but the positive news is that results so far from short-term studies indicate that passive smoking from e-cigarettes poses little to no danger to others.

For advocates of e-cigarettes, helping to shift public perception and increase awareness is the best way to uncover the myths about passive vaping. Here's what you need to know.

Vapour vs e-cigarettes

Cigarettes contain thousands of chemicals and studies have shown second-hand smoke contains much higher levels of carbon monoxide, nitrosamines and ammonia than when inhaled directly. Prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke brings with it a higher risk of everything from respiratory infection to asthma and cancer.

In contrast, e-liquids are made from just three to four ingredients: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, food-grade flavouring and nicotine. Propoylene glycol is used in food products as a flavour carrier and also in food colourings, while vegetable glycerine is a non toxic, vegetable-based liquid that helps produce the signature cloud that vapers love.

E-cigarettes have been designed so users can inhale nicotine without most of the harmful effects of smoking. E-cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide and carry with them a fraction of the risk of cigarettes, based on current findings. Public Health England carried out an independent review of the latest evidence, and found that vaping is around 95% safer than smoking.

Uncovering the myths

Negative perceptions of e-cigarettes mean many people falsely believe e-cigarettes to be just as harmful as smoking cigarettes.

A conservative approach from groups like the World Health Organisation also adds to this perception problem; while we wait for regulation to catch up, people mistake a lack of information as a bad thing, rather than simply a gradual shift towards understanding this newer way of smoking.

The tide is already turning. The review from Public Health England found there is no evidence that exposure to e-cigarette vapour poses harm for bystanders, and that available evidence indicates the risk of harm is extremely low - particularly when compared to tobacco smoke.

In time, as more studies confirm that e-cigarette vapours don't carry the same harm as second-hand smoke from cigarettes, we hope we'll be able to uncover the myths and give vaping the respect it deserves.