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Scientists Warn E-Cigarette Clouds Are Not Harmless Vapors

FDA Orders More Than 5 Million E-Cigarette Products Off the Market

Scientists and public health officials say emissions from e-cigarettes are not exactly harmless and calling them “vapor” is purposefully misleading. According to a report on, while the puffs from e-cigarettes are not exactly smoke, the term “vapor” can be misleading because they merely bring to mind an innocuous cloud of water. In a recent study published in the American Journal of College Health, public health experts argue that “aerosol” is a more accurate description as e-cig clouds have been shown to contain harmful chemicals that may remain in the air and settle on nearby surfaces.

While it might all seem like an unnecessary fuss over a word, new research suggests that it has a real impact on public policy and how individuals assess their risk of exposure from tobacco products. Comparing three terms for e-cigarette emissions among 791 college students, researchers found that the word “vapor” was linked to a lower sense of risk when it came to secondhand exposure.

A Public Health Issue

On the other hand, students who were asked questions using words such as “chemicals” or “aerosols” were twice as likely to describe emissions as “harmful” or “very harmful.” These individuals were also more likely to support a 100% tobacco-free campus policy. Public health officials say smoke-free campus environments are always solid public health measures especially during this time when a strong link has been proven between tobacco use and coronavirus transmission among young people.

Since 2012, the number of smoke-free universities in the United States has more than tripled and yet, one in six of these campuses still does not include e-cigarettes in that equation. This is a problem because while normal cigarette smoke may contain more toxins, recent evidence shows that e-cig clouds can still expose bystanders to nicotine, heavy metals, ultra-fine particulates, volatile organic compounds, and so on.

Dangers of Downplaying the Risk

E-cigarettes have surged in popularity with young people especially because they have been marketed as “cool” and as a safer alternative to regular cigarettes. The U.S. Surgeon General has called the increase of e-cigarette use among young people a public health epidemic and scientists are worried it could reverse decades of hard work on tobacco use. Terms such as “vapor” also contribute when it comes to downplaying the risk of secondhand exposure.

Suppose you or a loved one has been adversely affected after using e-cigarettes or have been injured after an e-cigarette exploded or caught fire. In that case, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses. An experienced California personal injury lawyer will be able to understand your legal rights and options better.


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