Health & Studies

Second-hand Tan

Andy Tan, PhD, led a team that has submitted a letter about the danger of second-hand vape – but failed to ascertain the actual danger

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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Andy Tan led a team that has published a letter on JAMA Network Open. The letter details research they conducted, looking at the prevalence of exposure to second-hand vape – but it failed to make any mention of the risk posed by vapour.

The research letter, “Trends in the Prevalence of Exposure to e-Cigarette Aerosol in Public Places Among US Middle and High School Students, 2015 to 2018”, opens by ignoring risk and selectively taking a single source to say: “Approximately one-quarter of US youth were exposed to second-hand electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) aerosols between 2015 and 2017.”

The International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO) called it: “More baseless scare mongering signifying nothing but total ignorance.”

Tan’s team also ignores the balanced view on teen initiation of vaping and, again, relies on a single source to support their statement that there is a rapid increase the popularity of pods systems among teenagers.

Tan told journalists it was a “concerning" situation as there is “an array of potentially hazardous chemicals are released by e-cigarettes. Fumes from e-cigarettes contain a variety of chemicals including nicotine, heavy metals, aldehydes, glycerin, and flavouring substances.”

It’s a spectacularly slanted view of vaping that reflects the extremists currently dictating the conversation about tobacco harm reduction in the United States.

The team write: “Participants were asked how often they breathed smoke from someone who was smoking tobacco products and breathed vapor from someone using an e-cigarette in indoor (eg, school building, store, restaurant, and sports arena) or outdoor (eg, school grounds, parking lot, stadium, and park) public places in the past 30 days.”

Misrepresenting the facts, Tan is quoted as saying: “The majority of studies have concluded that passive exposure may pose a health risk to bystanders, particularly vulnerable populations such as children and teens.

Tan’s stance is not new; POTV wrote about his presentation to the American Public Health Association’s conference in 2015. At the event, Tan said up to 75% of adult Americans didn’t know what’s in vape and his team automatically assumed that second-hand vape is a bad. In addition, he expressed shock that everybody didn’t share his feelings about second-hand vape. He went on to produce many anti-vaping pieces of work.


  • “Trends in the Prevalence of Exposure to e-Cigarette Aerosol in Public Places Among US Middle and High School Students, 2015 to 2018” by Tan, Bigman, Mello & Sanders-Jackson – [link]
  • APHA Annual Conference, 2015 (POTV) – [link]

Photo Credit:

  • Young blonde woman vaping – Wiki Commons

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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