Dr. Michael Siegel Discusses More Research Disproving “Secondhand Vaping” Dr. Michael Siegel Discusses More Research Disproving “Secondhand Vaping”

Renowned cigarette control expert, Dr. Michael Siegel, shines light on yet another piece of research improving the case for e-cigarettes

Dr. Michael Siegel is a professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. He has spent most of his 32 year career fighting against smoking and its harmful effects on society. Having published over 70 articles related to the dangers of cigarettes in peer reviewed journals, Dr. Siegel is no friend to the tobacco industry. His most successful work was on the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, with which he was integral in eventually getting smoking banned from most indoor public places in America. With that being the case, it is hard to imagine that he would defend secondhand vaping so strongly without being totally convinced. But that’s exactly what he did earlier this year when he posted an entire entry of his well known and longstanding tobacco commentary blog, The Rest of the Story, about a recent secondhand vaping study.

Secondhand Vaping Study

In an effort to better understand the effects of secondhand vaping, the California State Health Department has been conducting air sampling and exposure tests at various vape shops throughout the state. While still officially unreleased, the results from one of these shops was obtained by Dr. Seigel and provides important evidence about secondhand vaping. Researchers found the exposure to potentially harmful substances was at most minimal for bystanders. According to Dr. Seigel, this particular shop had an especially heavy exposure level. Most employees and customers vaped throughout the day, resulting in visible clouds of latent vapor. This was made even worse by the lack of a visible ventilation system. But even under these extreme conditions, much worse than most will be in contact with, the concentrations of potentially harmful substances were negligible. Siegel believes spreading this information is extremely important because of how many policy makers look to ban vaping in the same way they banned cigarettes. Worse, this feeds into the concerns of people worrying about medical conditions falsely associated with vaping, such as popcorn lung.

Seigel’s Take

Dr. Seigel firmly believes that since even a very poorly regulated vape shop produced no real signs of a risk to bystanders, it is safe to assume that most any situation would not be made dangerous by vaping. He lists all of the substances that were tested for, noting whether or not they had been detected at measurable levels. Of the 22 potentially dangerous chemicals tested for, 17 were undetectable (including Acetone, Glycidol, Chloroform, and even Nicotine), 4 of the chemicals were only detectable using special methods, with just Formaldehyde found at measurable levels (7.2 parts per billion). But Dr. Seigel is quick to note that 7.2 parts per billion of Formaldehyde is consistent with the normal level in many indoor or outdoor spaces. In regards to popcorn lung concerns, Dr. Seigel said the study found none of the substances associated with this debilitating condition. Even nicotine, which is often used as the basis for vaping critiques, was essentially non-existent during the testing. He lauded the study for adding valuable evidence against any connection between secondhand vaping and health issues, even in the worst cases.

He goes on to explain why information like this is so important in the fight for vaping rights. Having spent his entire 30+ year career working to enact smoking bans in places from bars to casinos, Dr. Seigel assures us we can believe him when he says that there is no legitimate reason to ban vaping in most public places. This is because there must be “reasonable evidence” before the government implements sweeping bans. This is something we have mountains of for secondhand cigarette smoke, but only a small amount looking at vaping. Furthermore, the research we do have largely points to its relative safety compared to smoking.

On The Right Track

Dr. Michael Seigel once again provides an example for the rest of us on how to deal with misinformation. We must all take after Dr. Seigel’s lead and only make decisions based on reasonable, peer reviewed research. Until we spread enough legitimate and positive information on vaping, like the CDPH study, the majority of people will still incorrectly assume that vaping leads to horrible conditions like popcorn lung.

How much vapor do you usually find yourself spending a lot of time in? Have you ever worried about being around too much vapor? Do you think it’s important to spread research like this in order to help vaping gain more support? Let us know what you think in the comments.


Katie Bercham - CocktailNerd Editor

Katie actually had a negative first experience of electronic cigarettes, picking up a cheap and horrible model from my local mall. Thanks to a chance meeting with co-editor David, she hasn’t had a tobacco cigarette in over 5 years. She brings a strong female voice to the e-cig community.