MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Electronic cigarettes have become so popular they're the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.

But when it comes to secondhand smoke, viewer Charles Mattson wants to know if vapors from vaporizers, or e-cigarettes, are any more or less safe than secondhand smoke.

Our Verify team went to someone who is looking into this very topic. Irina Stepanov is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences. Her lab team researches cigarettes and e-cigarettes and their effects on health.

Stepanov says both products have toxic chemicals and both products are unsafe.

"We can say that most likely e-cigarette aerosol is less harmful than cigarette smoke because it contains much fewer toxicants and those that are present usually are much lower levels," she said.

But because vaping products are relatively new, it is difficult to grasp the long-term impacts. "It will take time to better understand what our health risks of e-cigarettes aerosol exposure but it definitely is not harmless," said Stepanov.

As Stepanov and her team continue to study e-cigarettes, bottom line, she says, you should avoid exposure to those vapors.

The American Lung Association says nine states have included e-cigarettes in their smoke-free laws. Those states are California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah and Vermont. The laws don't prohibit their use, just require that e-cigarettes be used outdoors.


  • Irina Stepanov, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota Division of Environmental Health
  • American Lung Association


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