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WARNING: Vaping products contain Nicotine, a highly addictive chemical - Health Canada
WARNING: Vaping products contain Nicotine, a highly addictive chemical - Health Canada

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What Are the Risks from Secondhand Vape Smoke?

Author

Christopher Fournier

Date

May 17, 2023

Categories

U Vape Blog

What Are the Risks from Secondhand Vape Smoke?

Summary of Key Points

  • Secondhand vapour, the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes or vaping devices, contains fewer toxic substances than secondhand smoke from traditional tobacco products.
  • Health risks associated with secondhand vapour include respiratory irritation, allergic reactions, and nicotine exposure, but the risks are generally lower compared to secondhand smoke.
  • To manage the risks of secondhand vapour, limit vaping frequency, maintain proper device maintenance, and choose high-quality vaping products.
  • Vaping etiquette, such as using devices in designated areas and being mindful of others, is crucial to respecting the comfort and safety of non-users.
  • Canadian laws and regulations related to secondhand vapour focus on restricting where vaping is allowed to minimize potential exposure to non-users.

What Are the Risks from Secondhand Vape Smoke?

From pod systems to disposable devices, vaping allows people to transition away from cigarettes and helps reduce the risks created by secondhand smoke from traditional tobacco products. But does secondhand vape smoke have risks of its own, and what should you know to vape responsibly—both for yourself and others around you?

U Vape’s team is dedicated to promoting ethical vaping practices, so we’re here to help. Below, we walk you through the differences between vapour and cigarette smoke so you can understand the implications of secondhand vapour and make informed choices about your vaping experience.

Man blowing vape cloud in public location

What is Secondhand Vapour?

Secondhand vapour refers to the aerosol produced by electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or vaping devices when the user exhales. It’s essentially a mixture of various chemicals and substances, including:

  • Nicotine
  • Propylene glycol
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Flavoring compounds

While vaping is widely considered a safer alternative to traditional smokin, it still carries certain risks of its own. We’ll explain more about these next.

Health Risks Associated with Secondhand Vapour

The health risks associated with secondhand vapour are not as thoroughly-documented as those related to secondhand smoke, but some potential concerns have been identified. These include:

  • Respiratory irritation: Exposure to secondhand vapour may cause discomfort in the throat and airways, potentially worsening pre-existing respiratory conditions like asthma. Certain low-quality e-juices containing diacetyl may also cause inflammation and scarring in the lung tissue (called popcorn lung)—for this reason, most reputable e-liquid manufacturers no longer sell products with diacetyl in them.
  • Allergic reactions: Some individuals may experience sensitivity or allergic reactions to the chemicals and flavorings present in the vapour.
  • Nicotine exposure: While the levels of nicotine in secondhand vapour are lower than in secondhand smoke, non-users may still be exposed to it, potentially leading to addiction or other health concerns.
Person holding vape in one hand and cigarettes in the other

Secondhand Vapour vs. Secondhand Smoke: What’s Worse?

When comparing secondhand vapour to secondhand smoke from cigarettes and other tobacco products, it's important to note the differences in composition. Secondhand smoke contains thousands of harmful chemicals, including carcinogens and toxicants. In contrast, secondhand vapour contains fewer toxic substances, and the concentrations of these substances are generally lower than in cigarette smoke.

Research also indicates that switching completely from smoking to vaping leads to short-term health improvements as the result of avoiding cigarettes. In addition, transitioning entirely to vaping may be a more effective way to quit smoking than using nicotine replacement therapy or counselling alone.

Managing the Risks of Secondhand Vapour

To manage the risks associated with secondhand vapour, we recommend taking the following precautions:

  • Ration yourself: if you’re using more than 10ml of e-liquid per day (an amount that equates to about 1000 puffs), then you’re vaping heavily. Using your device less can reduce the severity and frequency of any adverse effects caused by your vapour.
  • Maintain proper device maintenance: Regular cleaning and maintenance of your vaping device can help reduce the emission of potentially harmful substances in the vapour.
  • Choose vape products wisely: Opt for high-quality vape devices and e-liquids that are legally for sale in Canada to ensure you minimize the potential risks associated with vaping.
Person holding vape near others in public space

Vaping Etiquette & Respecting Others

Because secondhand exposure to vape smoke does have certain risks, it’s vital to respect the comfort and safety of others when you use your device. Here are some guidelines to keep your vaping respectful:

  • Vape in designated areas: Just like traditional smokers, you should only use your devices in designated smoking areas to minimize exposure to non-users.
  • Be mindful of others: If you are in close proximity to individuals who may be sensitive to secondhand vapour, such as pregnant women, children, or individuals with respiratory conditions, consider vaping elsewhere or waiting until they are not around.

Legal Considerations

Laws and regulations pertaining to secondhand vape smoke, or vapour, in Canada are primarily focused on restrictions regarding where vaping is allowed. These regulations aim to minimize the potential exposure of non-users to secondhand vapour. Below is a summary of the key regulations related to secondhand vapour in each province and territory:

British Columbia

Vaping is prohibited in indoor public spaces, workplaces, and in vehicles with minors present.

Alberta

Vaping is prohibited in public spaces and workplaces where smoking is also banned.

Saskatchewan

Vaping is prohibited in public spaces and workplaces where smoking is also banned.

Manitoba

Vaping is prohibited in indoor public spaces, workplaces, and outdoor public spaces near entrances and windows.

Ontario

Vaping is prohibited in public spaces and workplaces where smoking is also banned.

Quebec

Vaping is prohibited in public spaces and workplaces where smoking is also banned.

New Brunswick

Vaping is prohibited in public spaces and workplaces where smoking is also banned.

Nova Scotia

Vaping is prohibited in public spaces and workplaces where smoking is also banned.

Prince Edward Island

Vaping is prohibited in public spaces and workplaces where smoking is also banned.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Vaping is prohibited in public spaces and workplaces where smoking is also banned.

Yukon

Vaping is prohibited in public spaces and workplaces where smoking is also banned.

Northwest Territories

Vaping is prohibited in public spaces and workplaces where smoking is also banned.

Nunavut

Vaping is prohibited in public spaces and workplaces where smoking is also banned.

Please note that these regulations are subject to change and may vary between specific municipalities and regions. Always consult your local laws and bylaws for the most accurate and up-to-date information on vaping regulations, particularly those related to secondhand vapour.

Vaping Responsibly for Yourself & Others

Choosing to vape instead of smoke can be beneficial in many ways, but you’ll still need to respect the people around you and avoid exposing them to secondhand vapour without consent. Use what you’ve learned above to enjoy vaping more responsibly and remain a good ambassador of the vaping community. To learn more about improving the way you vape, check out our other posts or contact U Vape directly. We’ll be happy to answer your questions or provide recommendations on high-quality products that meet your unique needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any long-term studies on the effects of secondhand vapour?

Currently, there are limited long-term studies on the effects of secondhand vapour, as vaping technology is still relatively new. However, ongoing research is working to determine its long-term effects.

Can I vape around children or pets?

It's best to avoid vaping around pets, children, pregnant women, or individuals with respiratory conditions due to the potential sensitivity of these groups.

Does every e-liquid contain nicotine?

No, not all e-liquids contain nicotine. Many e-liquids are available with varying levels of nicotine, including options with zero nicotine.

Do bigger vape clouds release more chemicals?

The size or density of the vape cloud can indicate the amount of e-liquid being vaporized, but it doesn't necessarily mean more harmful substances are being released into the air. The type of device being used, its output settings, and the composition of the e-liquid also play a significant role in the content of the vapour.

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