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Is Secondhand Vaping Bad for You?

Two teen girls vaping with guy plugging his nose.  

Recent studies have provided a great deal of evidence showing that secondhand vape aerosol has negative health consequences and reduces the quality of indoor air. This risk is particularly consequential for teenagers, who are frequently exposed to secondhand vaping in school and social settings, even if they themselves are not vaping.

There is a growing body of evidence showing that vaping has significant adverse effects on both the person using the vape pen and the people who are exposed to the secondhand vape aerosol.

Teen Vaping Statistics

The combination of teens and vaping is far more dangerous than the e-cigarette industry has led the public to believe. Teen vaping statistics show an alarming trend in vape pen use, with significant increases in vaping (or “juuling”) across all youth age groups measured.

Approximately 10% of 8th graders reported vaping within the past 30 days (with 6% reporting that they vaped nicotine), and 25% of 12th graders reported that they vaped within the past 30 days (21% reported that they vaped nicotine). A recent report published by the U.S. Surgeon General showed that e-cigarette use among high school students increased by an astonishing 900% between 2011 and 2015.

Toxic Substances in Vape Aerosol

There are a number of incredibly toxic chemicals in vape aerosol. People who vape are exposed to chemicals that have been linked to lung disease (diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione), cancer (formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)) and metabolic and neurologic dysfunction (nickel, tin and lead). In addition, vaping has been shown to cause lung fibrosis (scarring of lung tissue) and reduce the ability to fight infectious agents, including the influenza virus.

Importantly, the secondhand vapor is almost 100% mainstream, meaning that the inhaled vapor is essentially identical to the exhaled vapor. This is in contrast to secondhand cigarette smoke, which is compositionally distinct from inhaled smoke.

Effects of Secondhand Smoke from Vaping

Secondhand vape “smoke” is actually vapor, which has led many people to incorrectly assume that the smoke is harmless water vapor. A recent study found that parents have turned to e-cigarettes in an attempt to protect their children from secondhand smoke, and nearly 75% of parents who vape do so in the home, while only 36% of cigarette-smoking parents smoke in the home.

E-cigarette vapor contains dangerous chemicals that can significantly harm normal teenage development. Ultrafine particles, VOCs and dangerous chemicals pose significant harm to child and teenage development, although conclusive data on the long-term effects remains an area of active research. Several studies have shown that secondhand vape aerosol significantly contributes to air pollution and reduces air quality.

Vaping can eventually lead to using other substances. If you are concerned that your teen is struggling with a substance use disorder, Next Generation Village can help. We offer educational resources for parents and teens as well as providing comprehensive rehab programs that can address the physical and psychological facets of substance use disorders. Contact us today to learn more.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.


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