Researchers Study E-Cig Vapor and Find Nicotine, But No Smoke

In a new study, researchers from Poland and New York collaborated to uncover what toxins could be hiding in e-cig vapor. With so much concern about secondhand exposure to vapor, it is a timely study that could have a heavy impact on e-cig legislation. While many states are seeking to ban e-cig use from public places out of fear of harmful secondhand smoke, this study could potentially debunk their arguments and prove once and for all whether e-cigs are a good alternative to tobacco cigarettes.

During the study, the research team measured the nicotine they found in vapor produced by three different e-cigarette brands. Ultimately, they did find traces of nicotine in the vapor from all three brands, but the amount was miniscule. In fact, the researchers reported that the nicotine in secondhand vapor was ten times lower than the amount of nicotine found in secondhand cigarette smoke.

Medical Daily seized the new study as an opportunity to further criticize electronic cigarettes and raise suspicion about the risk factors. They claimed that e-cigs could pose nicotine dangers similar to secondhand smoke, but that is misleading. If you actually read the research report, you will see that e-cig vapor might contain nicotine, but not nearly as much as e-cig opponents want you to think.

The researchers summarized their results by saying that using e-cigs indoors “may involuntarily expose nonusers to nicotine but not to toxic tobacco-specific combustion products.” The research team also suggested that further study is necessary to really understand the health impact of secondhand exposure to nicotine before drawing any definitive conclusions.

No one has ever really studied whether nicotine is harmful by secondhand exposure. In fact, nicotine is a lot like caffeine and no one is regulating or banning coffee. Both nicotine and caffeine have similar effects on the body such as increased heart rate and even nausea. Ray Story, head of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association said, “The nicotine itself is not a deadly product… if this product is sold within the parameters of what we feel is a responsible product, this product is basically harmless.”

So far, there haven’t been many studies to determine if nicotine is really harmful in secondhand exposure. Though it is logical to think there could be some risks, particularly during pregnancy or when paired with heart disease, the amount of nicotine necessary to do harm is likely much higher than what people are exposed to through secondhand vapor. It’s similar to sitting with a friend that enjoys coffee. If your friend accidentally spills a little coffee on your arm, you might be exposed to caffeine, but not in enough quantity to hurt you.

Another important thing to consider is how long e-cig vapor lingers. While cigarette smoke can hang in the air for 20 minutes, e-cigarette vapor will disappear within 15-20 seconds. So there is only a tiny window of time when secondhand exposure to nicotine could take place.

Ultimately, the fact remains that secondhand vapor does contain traces of nicotine. But is it enough to harm the innocent bystander? It’s not likely. What do you think? Do you believe secondhand exposure to nicotine is a big deal?

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Author Focus: David Fitchburg
David is a 5 year vet of the e-cig scene. He started smoking in his late teens, his habit got pretty bad and the birth of his daughter really made him think that he should consider quitting tobacco. He tried everything with little success. Then in 2008 he discovered e-cigarettes, started vaping and has never looked back. Read Full Profile >