Children in vaping households are being exposed to many of the tobacco toxicants in cigarettes, but at lower levels. How this will affect future health is still uncertain.
As the popularity of vaping continues to increase among teens, so does the number of middle and high schoolers exposed to it secondhand.
According to new research, roughly one in three teens said they breathed in vape clouds from other users last year. This is up from the year before, when a relatively fewer one in four breathed the same, says research published in JAMA Network Open.
This new research was based on data collected by the National Youth Tobacco Survey on secondhand inhalation of tobacco smoke or e-cig vapors by middle and high schoolers, taken from the year 2015 to 2018.
Who Is Most Affected?
According to this data, the groups most affected by secondhand vape inhalation were white, female, lived with a vape user, or were vape users themselves.
This incredible growth in secondhand inhalation is in spite of proactive strategies by authorities. As reported by the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, “16 states and more than 800 municipalities have introduced laws to restrict e-cigarette use in 100% smoke-free or other venues, including schools, over the past few years.”
This, researchers propose, is because public opinion hasn’t yet turned against vapes the same way it has against traditional tobacco products.
“This may be owing to the increase in youth using pod-based e-cigarettes and other devices, fewer vape-free policies than smoke-free policies, and fewer people who are willing to speak up against others vaping in public places,” wrote researchers.
Youth Vaping Epidemic
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in five high schoolers and one in 20 middle schoolers use vapes. In terms of hard numbers, the amount of middle and high schoolers using vapes went from 2.1 million to 3.6 million between 2017 and 2018, representing an increase of roughly 1.5 new teen vapers. The massive change is reflective of the overall switch from smoking to vaping in the United States in general.
This is largely due to the perception that smoking is less healthy than vaping. While vaping may expose you to fewer chemicals than smoking, “We still don’t know the long-term health effects and most people generally think that they’re safer than smoking cigarettes, so they’re not too worried about exposing others to secondhand vapor,” said Dr. Theodore Wagener of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Now, Dr. Wagener has just completed a yet-to-be published study on how vaping affects the children living in vaping households.
“We definitely know that they’re being exposed to many of these tobacco toxicants that we saw with cigarettes but it appears to be just at lower levels,” said Dr. Wagener. “What that means for downstream health, we still don’t know. I wish we did.”