One of the longest standing debates about vaping revolves around whether it should be banned in public spaces due to the potential for harmful chemicals. This was brought to the attention of the British Public in 2016 when the British Medical Associations annual meeting in Belfast called for limitations on where people can smoke their e cigarettes. Mainly this was down to worries about the content of e juice, and especially on what effects the passive smoking of vapes would have on members of the public. However, this year new research has sprung some interesting results on the chemical content of second hand vapour and whether this has the potential to harm members of the public.
How the research was carried out
The research was carried out in an environment with a high potential for passive smoking, the results being recorded in a non-ventilated vape shop filled with customers and a lot of people smoking vape products. This therefore was research undertaken in an intense vaping environment and hence any dangerous substances would have been recorded in higher levels than if it were carried out in the street. This means that if the results did reveal toxic levels in the atmosphere they would be amplified to the detriment of those who argued for second hand vaping. It seems then that the odds were weighed against second hand vaping.
However the research, undertaken by the Californian Department of Public Health found that none of the potentially harmful chemicals in e-cigarette vapour were found in the second hand smoke. These included zero traces of acetone, acetoin, toluene, benzene and xylene whilst trace amounts of formaldehyde were found in the air. Formaldehyde has been classed by the US National Toxicology Programme as a “human carcinogen”, meaning that it does pose a threat to human health. However, the amount of formaldehyde in the air during the test showed that it was no more than at base level of many other indoor spaces, thus suggesting that any formaldehyde released was on the same level as that which would be naturally occurring.
The standard method also failed to pick up any signs of chemicals which could cause the ever feared “popcorn lung” or Bronchitis obliterans which obstructs the smallest airways in the lungs when inflamed. This disease, although connected to the chemicals in butter flavourings in popcorn, has also been associated with chemicals within e-cigarettes. The only other chemicals which were detected were ethanol and isopropyl alcohol, both of which are harmless when breathed second hand.
No vaping ban in public spaces
It seems that evidence is mounting up that second hand vaping has no damaging effect on passive smokers, making many claims for its banning in public spaces void. Another argument against banning vaping in public spaces is that it might repel tobacco smoking converts from taking up the far safer nicotine substitute. If they can’t smoke in public spaces then they may end up returning to the more harmful tobacco instead, and begin causing more damage with second hand smoke. It seems then, that it would be in medical world and the general public’s interest to keep vaping legal in public spaces, as this will lead to far less harm in the long run.