Second Hand Exposure to Vaping Fumes is Common Among Middle and High School Students: Study

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One-third of middle school and high school students in the United States are exposed to second hand vaping fumes from JUUL and other e-cigarette products, and about half report being exposed to second-hand smoke or vaping fumes from some kind of tobacco device, according to the findings of a new study that raises further concerns about the widespread popularity of the products.

The findings were published last week in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, in a research letter submitted by investigators from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

According to the study, an increasing number of U.S. youth are being exposed to secondhand smoke and vaping fumes, suggesting the use of those products among other teens is outpacing the growing number of laws nationwide designed to make schools and similar venues smoke-free.

Researchers looked at data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey from 2015 to 2018, involving about 20,000 students per year. They asked participants how often they breathed smoke from someone using tobacco products or vaping in the past 30 days.

According to the findings, just under 50% of all middle school and high school students say they were exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS), but that number has been trending down. However, exposure to secondhand aerosol (SHA) from vaping has gone up, starting at about 25% in 2015, or about one-quarter of those students, up to 33% in 2018, or about one-third.

The study found that youth who lived with someone who used tobacco products were more likely to report exposure to secondhand smoke, while high school students overall had a nearly 50% higher chance of exposure to secondhand vaping fumes, compared to middle school students.

Researchers noted that the increased vaping fumes exposure came despite attempts by states to keep such fumes away from children.

“Although 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, an increasing proportion of US youth reported exposure to SHA in public places in 2018 compared to previous years,” the researchers reported. “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.”

In recent months, dozens of JUUL vaping lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturer of the most popular form of e-cigarette, alleging that the company targeted their addictive product toward teens and withheld important safety warnings about the risk of respiratory problems, pneumonia, seizures, addiction and other complications.

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