Smoke is deadly. Independent health and prevention agencies agree that smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death. The consequences can be felt worldwide. The consequences are smoking bans, conspicuous warnings with useful information on cigarette packets, and a noticeably worsened image of the cigarette brands. Smoking has long been prohibited in public spaces, but there is also a strict smoking ban in many other areas. Many workplaces, bars, clubs, restaurants, and other public places now prohibit smoking. The goal is not only to make smoking less attractive for addicts but to protect non-smokers from consuming passive smoke. The same regulations have been in place for years on drunk driving. They should protect not only drinkers but also other people on the road. Tobacco laws are designed to protect bystanders and passers-by from dangerous tobacco smoke. With the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes, many critical voices were raised here as well. In drafting the law, proposals were made to align the vapor laws with cigarettes, such as the famous regulartion in the EU: TPD vape. But can the same logic apply here? How safe is passive vaping?
Smoking and vaping compared
It has long been known that vaping and smoking are very different. Accordingly, many vapers want different treatments. They argue that even smoking indoors is not harmful, and there is no reason to ban smoking rooms. The main argument here is the actual health risk. Due to the way e-cigarettes work, they are significantly less risky to health. While most harmful substances in a cigarette are produced by burning tobacco, this process does not occur in the e-cigarette. E-cigarettes produce neither tar nor carbon monoxide, which is known to be among the most dangerous by-products of cigarettes. From this, it can be deduced that vaping is about 95% safer than smoking. However, the nicotine in the vapor of the e-cigarette is just as much as in a conventional cigarette. Nicotine has long been known for its addictive effects. While questions keep coming up about whether nicotine is the problem with cigarettes or whether it’s the various by-products that pose a health risk, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Researchers are not entirely sure about the risks of vaping, especially for long periods. In many places, vaping and smoking are strictly prohibited.
Is passive vaping safe?
Contradictory information is available on almost all scientifically studied topics. A study has found that vaping degrades indoor air quality, notably increasing the amount of nicotine indoors. Another study, conducted in living quarters under realistic conditions, also found an increase in nicotine levels, which, however, was many times lower than would have been the case with smoking. Another experiment took place under laboratory conditions. Here, people were exposed to steam or cigarette smoke as a test. The nicotine level of the test subjects was then measured. The results showed that short-term exposure to vapor neither affects lung function nor increases the risk of inflammation and thus does not necessarily lead to cardiovascular weakness, as measurable values in passive smokers have shown.
Most studies have focused on nicotine intake because it is a major product in e-cigarette vapor. However, to assess the risk realistically, not only must the amount of nicotine produced be disclosed, but it must also be understood what nicotine is and what makes it harmful.
Nicotine in tobacco
Nicotine is found in all conventional cigarettes as it is a component of tobacco. On its own, however, nicotine is far from the most dangerous ingredient here. Tar and carbon monoxide, as well as other dangerous chemicals such as hydrocyanic acid, are the main causes of serious illness or death. Their active ingredients cause cancer and lung or heart diseases. Nicotine is so dangerous in conventional cigarettes because this substance makes you dependent, and smokers reach for a cigarette more often. In doing so, they automatically expose themselves to other dangerous ingredients. However, these by-products do not occur or only occur at much lower levels. Studies have also shown that the nicotine content of exhaled e-cigarette vapor contains eight times less nicotine than exhaled cigarette smoke. It’s also important to remember that e-cigarettes don’t just randomly produce vapor like cigarettes do when lit. E-cigarette vapor is only produced at the push of a button and when inhaled by the vaporizer. Unfiltered steam is not generated at all for bystanders. No study has determined an actual risk for people exposed to passive vaping.
Are vaping bans a problem?
Many vapers see e-cigarettes as a great way to quit smoking. Vaping allows you to satisfy your nicotine addiction without exposing yourself to unpredictable and risky pollutants. While e-cigarettes are not yet officially approved as a nicotine replacement therapy, many vapers use the devices primarily for smoking transitions. One of the main arguments for indoor vaping is that it would persuade more smokers to quit. Going to special smoking areas or in front of the door is pointless, disrupts the workflow, and can even become uncomfortable depending on the weather. The prospect of comfortably satisfying your own needs indoors can be a great incentive. Another significant advantage would be the protection of the vapers. If they are forced to share the same room with smokers, they are exposed to the harmful substances they want to avoid. Ex-smokers currently during smoking withdrawal can experience physical discomfort or other withdrawal symptoms from inhaling cigarette smoke. Anyone who has tried to quit smoking knows how unpleasant and strong the craving for a cigarette can be. Relapse can occur quickly when surrounded by smokers, whether at home or in social situations. All the effort and effort invested in quitting smoking is in vain when you reach for a cigarette again. For some ex-smokers, inhaling cigarette smoke is not even necessary. Just the sight of a cigarette or another smoker can be enough to induce a strong craving.
A sensible alternative
Even if there is no suitable solution in sight and the ban on steaming at work or in your favorite restaurant remains despite scientific substantiation, an alternative should still be worked on. Switching to smoking areas is not an option for most vapers due to the reasons mentioned. They would then become passive smokers and expose themselves to a not inconsiderable risk. Creating an alternative space for vapers would be an alternative. Even if steam poses no risk to ordinary passers-by, they can still feel disturbed by it. A vaper safe space fixes this problem without confusing vapers and smokers with one another.
Passive vaping poses no verifiable risk. This fact will certainly cause a lot of discussions as it suggests that vapers are often exposed to unfair situations. However, it should be more important than always being right to protect as many people as possible from inhaling cigarette smoke because this protection should also be extended to vapers.