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Don't Be Fooled, E-cig Aerosol Is Not Harmless for Kids

The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless, and can contain harmful and potentially harmful chemicals, including nicotine.

While e-cigarettes do not contain smoke, they do expose others to secondhand emissions. Two studies have found formaldehyde, benzene and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (all carcinogens) coming from those secondhand emissions. Other studies have shown that chemicals in the emissions contain formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and other potential toxins. The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless, and can contain harmful and potentially harmful chemicals, including nicotine.

What's coming out of an e-cigarette (aerosol) may look different than secondhand smoke from cigarettes, but it's far from harmless. The Surgeon General warns e-cigarette emissions can contain harmful chemicals, including nicotine and volatile organic compounds. Children are particularly vulnerable because of their developing lungs—and nicotine is always harmful to adolescent brain development.

But many Americans think e-cigarette aerosol is safe. According to a new CDC study, 40 percent of U.S. adults believe that children's exposure to secondhand aerosol from e-cigarettes causes only some or little harm. Five percent think it causes no harm. And this misperception may be risking the health of those who breathe this aerosol, especially children who may be exposed.

The Study of Perceptions

In the study Perceptions of Harm to Children Exposed to Secondhand Aerosol From Electronic Vapor Products, Styles Survey, 2015, authors assessed the perceptions of e-cigarette aerosol harmfulness. They found that current and former adult cigarette smokers and e-cigarette users were more likely to perceive that secondhand aerosol exposure poses no harm to children. Here are more of the study's results:

•	42.4 percent of men and 37.6 percent of women believe children’s exposure to secondhand aerosol from e-cigarette products causes some or little harm. •	33.5 percent of men and 33 percent of women don’t know if children’s exposure to secondhand aerosol from e-cigarette products causes harm. •	40.1 percent of whites, 37.2 percent of blacks, 38.8 percent of Hispanics, and 44.2 percent of other races/ethnicities believe children’s exposure to secondhand aerosol from e-cigarette products causes some or little harm. •	21.5 percent of respondents believe children’s exposure to secondhand aerosol from e-cigarette products causes a lot of harm.

The study's conclusions support the need for public education of health risks from secondhand e-cigarette emissions and protections for non-users, particularly children, as well as laws protecting everyone from secondhand e-cigarette emissions.

Clean Air Should Be the Standard to Protect Health

Tobacco free sign in public space stating use of tobacco products including smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes is prohibited.

What's good for your lungs? Clean, healthy air. According to the study, "clean air — free of both smoke and [e-cigarette] aerosol — remains the standard to protect health." The American Lung Association wholeheartedly agrees!

That's why we continue our work to help smokers quit tobacco and educate the public about the realities of tobacco use (including e-cigarettes), and the importance of smokefree spaces. In fact, now that more and more public spaces and workplaces are going smokefree, it's important to include e-cigarettes under smokefree laws, to protect everyone from breathing in secondhand e-cigarette emissions. The aerosol is a cocktail of chemicals that's not safe for anyone to inhale.

Currently, nine states, the District of Columbia and hundreds of communities have added e-cigarettes to their smokefree laws—prohibiting e-cigarette use in the same places where smoking is already not allowed. We're urging all states and communities to do the same.

Sign up for our Lung Action Network to help us create more smokefree spaces!

Curious about what's in an e-cigarette or if they can help you quit smoking? Get the facts about e-cigarettes and lung health at

Related Topics: Tobacco & Smoking, Health & Wellness,

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Submitted by 2Fresh at: January 26, 2019
Y'all are giving this man a hard time over research that has been done on the subject. I'm an ex smoker that vapes reading on this waiting to see what they find because I agree with hard facts. I would love to think it's completely harmless second hand and do believe it's better first hand. But nothing is ever 100% safe to inhale. Even albuterol and other inhalents prescribed have negative side effects. Looking at the clouds of vapor smoking out a room how could you think it's harmless for kids and other people to run around in it? Thats ignorant to even assume. Yes the smoke dissipates faster, They're safer than a cigarette, But they are not harmless. I wont smoke it around my kids or other people and treat it like a cigarette because it is and if you believe any different maybe you need to quit arguing with doctors and listen to what they have to say considering your not the one with a PhD doing the research
Submitted by Second Hand Smoke 10 year Personal Experience at: September 18, 2018
My husband quit smoking about 10 years ago when he started using the vapor cigarette. When he stop smoking it was a lifesaver for me I’m a non-smoker and always have been. I hated that he smoked I didn’t want to kiss him he stunk he tasted bad I didn’t even share drinks with him. The vapor cigarettes have changed our lives for the better in mor ways then one. However the last three years I have been experiencing something that has never happened to me before, my lungs seem to be full of a white phlegm as gross as this is I’m hacking up white chunks every morning as if I’m a smoker. I never related this to secondhand smoke from the vapor cigarette until my husband brought it up one day he noticed that when he smoked it heavily I would start hacking, when he brought this up to me it made a lot of sense because the phlegm I am hacking up is white and sticky. I can’t say without a doubt this is caused by my husband vaping but it sure seems like that’s why this is happening. I realize I should go to the doctor but I’m just so sick and tired of the doctors telling me there’s nothing wrong when I see them for something unrelated that I haven’t had the courage to go in because clearly there is something wrong.
Submitted by mutteredexpletives at: June 9, 2017
How about some REAL science. Not propaganda! It is NOT aerosol. Naturally, air is your best option, but as a five year vaporizer user who is at 3mgs of nicotine, this is literally a lifesaver for X cigarette smokers. I support our youth not picking up ANY bad habits, as do all adult vape advocates. I can only assume lobbyist money is being tossed at this organization. Instead of helping the American people, you are corporate shills spreading lies instead of the truth, & real science and real statistics.
Submitted by JapperVision at: June 8, 2017
Wow, good info, Looks like I will start back smoking...thanks
Submitted by DRoth at: June 8, 2017
Here's a study that negates that. It also shows actual sources and explains how it was cocompleted.
Submitted by DRoth at: June 8, 2017 I'll take my chances.
Submitted by Anonymous at: June 8, 2017
Submitted by TrustTheFacts at: June 8, 2017
Your titillating title is misleading. Please provide proof when you make accusations as ridiculous as this one. The study was about the BELIEFS people hold...not the reality proven by science. Shame on you.
Submitted by josh at: June 8, 2017
this article about "perceptions" is incredibly misleading and outright irresponsible. the studies cited have time and again been proven false and completely unrepresentative of actual e-cig vapor. for every study funded by big tobacco and big pharma ( which i'm sure had some sort of influence for this article), there are legitimate studies that have found just the opposite.
Submitted by VAPOLOCITY at: June 8, 2017
There is absolutely no proof that any of the exhaled vapor from any vaporizer in the world contains anything that could harm a 3rd party. What studies have been conducted? Why didn't you cite any of the actual sources for your information (they are just links to your own site that has no real information or studies on it)? Has anyone ever actually gotten cancer from vaping or second-hand vapor? If so, how many? How about any other ailment? It's really strange that you claim people can get cancer from exhaled vapor when the person exhaling it isn't even susceptible to such dangers according to recent studies. Articles like this do nothing but attempt to destroy an industry that is only trying to help people. Whoever wrote this should be ashamed. You, sir or ma'am, are what is wrong with this country. An article about vaping should be informing smokers how much healthier it is for them instead of cigarettes. Why don't you cite some of the studies conducted in that regard? Many exist out there and have all proven the same thing; vaping is MUCH healthier than smoking. Why is there an obvious attack against vaping without even attempting to outline some of the benefits when compared to smoking? The only logical reason for you to exclude such information, to me, is because you are being paid by the tobacco companies and/or the pharmaceutical companies to say such things. Your interests can not possibly lie in protecting the public unless you don't consider current smokers to be part of the public.
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