CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - We know secondhand smoke from traditional cigarettes is dangerous... but, what about secondhand vaping?
We're around it all the time - people vape in the middle of restaurants and stores. It usually dissolves pretty quickly, and it never smells like smoke. But, as inconspicuous as e-cigs seem doctors say, they could be putting our health – and the health of our children – at risk, too. In fact, recent studies shown it can impact development in both the lungs and the brain.
“The brain doesn’t stop developing until about age 25,” said Dr. Carl Smart, a pulmonologist with Novant Health. “Anyone being exposed to vapors - firsthand or secondhand - as an adult, baby or even older certainly is at risk for some potential brain issue.”
Dr. Smart told WBTV there’s no getting around the dangers of vaping. They’re just as real as the dangers from secondhand exposure to traditional cigarettes.
“It is bad for you,” he said emphatically. “Period. There is not getting around, there is now way of nice-ing it up, making it sound or feel good. Vaping is bad. It leads to all types and kinds of either lung disease or like we said, potential trauma that could have long-term consequences."
Long-term consequences he said they don’t really know the full extent of.
“I think what we’re now realizing now in 2019, compared to 2009 or 2010 - ten years ago - is that these devices, the vapors can harm people far more than we even thought of."
Dr. Smart compared it to how long it took us to learn the long-term effects smoking have on our bodies.
“It wasn’t until decades later that we realized how bad it is and we’re actually still seeing a significant effect from it now, years later,” he pointed out. “We’re recognizing that it not only leads to lung cancer, but definitely COPD, heart disease, strokes, peripheral vascular disease - all those risks that we didn’t appreciate then are now coming to light. My fear is a decade, five decades down the road, all this will come to fruition [from vaping].”
He also explained how it can make children more susceptible to getting serious bacterial infections.
“This vapor is getting in the lungs and essentially irritating and to some degree even burning the lungs - that’s my analogy - and therefore the lining or protective mechanism of the lungs is now lost,” he explained. “So with it being lost it now predisposes you to getting these infections. They come in far more easily.”
Infections like the flu or pneumonia. And, he said when our lungs are under attack – any time they’re taking in more than just air – they don’t hesitate to defend themselves.
“Once you start to introduce something else into the lungs, then the lungs are going to start to defend themselves,” he said. “And, defending themselves can range from asthma where you have constriction of the lungs and you can’t breathe.”
Dr. Smart then ended our interview with a grim prediction.
“The only thing that needs to get into the lungs is air – period,” he said. “Anything else is putting yourself and your child at risk for consequences yet unseen and yet unknown. We may find that we don’t really know the full extent of it until years and decades later - when then it may be too late.”