Does e-cigarette consumption cause passive vaping? Yes, but it’s hardly worth worrying about.

By Paul Bergen

A girl inhales smoke.

For those out there curious about this new bit of research from Schripp and company on “passive vaping”, the abstract  (which is all most of us ever see) is only a little misleading.

Essentially the study consisted of one vaper using three different types of e-cigarettes and exhaling in a relatively small sealed chamber and then the results being assayed. Not surprisingly they found measurable quantities of a number of substances. They also compared the levels with what would have been found had a cigarette been smoked instead.

You will see if you go read that abstract that all that is reported is what components were found.

Of course there would be something there. And to the authors’ credit the report is as modest as the study itself. For instance, rather than simply reporting the levels of residual formaldehyde, they point out that that level was indistinguishable from the amount of formaldehyde that human beings naturally exhale.

And rather than just reporting the levels they include the all important comparison with smoked tobacco. It is both expected and obvious that there is much much less contamination in the air from vaping than from smoking. We already know that the dangers of 2nd hand smoke have been greatly exaggerated, so we can assume a next to nothing effect when it comes to 2nd hand vaping.

If I had to say something about the limitations of the study it would be that if the focus was more on vaping effects in themselves you would need to have more than one vaper. Also a smallish contained space with one person does not really mimic any real world environment.

Third Hand Smoke Link?

Shaking a smoker's hand will give you cancer.

However I was a little concerned with the introduction where the infamous Matt study on 3rd hand smoke is cited. It could be that the authors are just not aware as to how politically polluted and askew nicotine related studies can be since citing that one is kind of like citing Erich Von Daniken is a serious astronomy paper. Actually it is worse since it can influence social policy.

Their previous work was in the area of analyzing the danger of chronic exposure to office copiers (apparently something to worry about) and kitchen appliances (the toaster is a dangerous fellow as well it seems). (By the way for aspiring researchers in search of a lucrative market and with no pretensions to credibility Matt has single handedly created a new revenue stream.

In conclusion, Schripp et al are quite sensible in their conclusion that, though vaping does introduce new components into shared spaces, any health concerns should focus on effects of the lungs of the users.


New Study Confirms that Electronic Cigarettes are Much Safer than Real Ones, Suggests Minimal Risks of Secondhand Vapor (Professor Siegel on the Tobacco Analysis Blog)
The Passive Vaping Fable (Elaine Keller on Anti-THR Lies)
New Study Finds No Evidence of Passive Vaping
Passive Vaping: What scientists tell us?
Passive Vaping: A Threat to Non Smokers?

Article Sources

Matt, G.E, Residual tobacco smoke pollution in used cars for sale: Air, dust, and surfaces, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, Volume 10, Issue 9, September 2008, Pages 1467–1475,

Matt, G.E, Thirdhand Tobacco Smoke: Emerging Evidence and Arguments for a Multidisciplinary Research Agenda, Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Sep; 119(9): 1218–1226. 2011 May 31. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1103500

Schripp T et al, Does e‐cigarette consumption cause passive vaping?,  Wiley Online Library, June 2012


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