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Smoking Cessation Health Center

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E-Cigarettes: What the Research Shows

Secondhand Vaping

Smoking doesn't affect just the people who light up. Everyone around you also breathes in chemicals released in the smoke. Secondhand cigarette smoke has been linked to cancer, heart disease, and many other conditions. So researchers want to know whether secondhand vaping is dangerous, too.

Goniewicz and his research team have measured the amount of chemicals in e-cigarette vapors. They found nicotine in the vapor, but levels of other toxic chemicals were too low to cause concern.

But he says more research is needed to look at the effects of secondhand vapor on people who spend a lot of time with long-term users, especially children. Research is also needed on secondhand e-cigarette vapor outside of the lab, in the real world. "I think there need to be more studies that measure the levels of real settings like restaurants and bars where people would really be using them," Siegel says.

Next Steps

Because there are so many unknowns about the possible health risks of e-cigarettes, the FDA is looking to regulate these products as it does tobacco cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. It's not clear when these proposed regulations would go into effect.

Siegel says regulation is a good idea, because it will encourage more studies into the health effects of e-cigarettes. "I think with research we'll be able to find a way of delivering nicotine that's as safe as possible," he says.

For now, a lot of unanswered questions remain about electronic cigarettes, Goniewicz says. And though they are a safer option than regular cigarettes if you're a smoker trying to quit, they're not necessarily risk-free.

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