Is secondhand vapor from an e-cigarette unhealthy?

Author: Stefan H. Black, FordHarrison LLP

There is no scientific consensus regarding the health risks associated with secondhand vapor. Secondhand vapor is generally considered to be safer than secondhand tobacco smoke because e-cigarette vapor does not contain tar, carbon monoxide or many of the other harmful by-products of burning tobacco. However, there are some indications that secondhand vapor may have some negative health effects. The Food and Drug Administration has received voluntary reports from individuals who claim to have experienced the following adverse effects from exposure to e-cigarette vapor:

  • Irritation to the eyes, nose and throat;
  • Respiratory problems;
  • Nausea;
  • Headaches;
  • Coughing;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Congestive heart failure;
  • Disorientation;
  • Seizures; and
  • Hypotension.

However, there is no conclusive scientific evidence that e-cigarette vapor causes these health conditions.

Furthermore, initial studies have found detectable amounts of nicotine, carcinogens and harmful chemicals in secondhand vapor. However, there is disagreement as to whether exposure to trace amounts of these chemicals causes adverse health effects.

More research is needed to fully understand the health effects of secondhand vapor.