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3rd Hand Stupidity

San Diego State University, supported by a load of anti-vape organisations, is pushing a farcical link between third-hand smoke/vape and catching the COVID-19 virus

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San Diego State University, supported by a load of anti-vape organisations, is pushing a farcical link between third-hand smoke/vape and catching the COVID-19 virus. Researchers are claiming that “cleaning toxic residue in our homes” reduces risk because of bogus claims that “thirdhand smoke” sticks to surfaces.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a number of challenges, including that many are spending more time at home than ever before. This is a significant problem for those with neighbours who smoke. Smoking continues to be a problem in multi-unit housing, and while stay-at-home orders have helped to reduce transmission of COVID-19, they have also increased exposure to second-hand smoke from neighbours,” write the researchers.

The lunacy has been supported by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, and the American organisation Action on Smoking and Health – all of which have been pugnacious in their opposition to vaping and tobacco harm reduction.

But the problem is more than just second-hand smoke: long after second-hand smoke has cleared, the harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke and e-cigarette vapours remain as thirdhand smoke. The chemicals in thirdhand smoke stick to dust and household surfaces, and can built up over time creating significant reservoirs of thirdhand smoke,” they continue.

The press release directs readers to the Thirdhand Smoke website, where it states about vaping: “Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, do not burn a leaf like tobacco or marijuana. Instead, e-cigarettes heat a fluid that contains a mixture of chemicals. The mixture often includes nicotine that is produce from tobacco leaves. This heated fluid creates an aerosol vapor that looks like cigarette smoke. Users of e-cigarettes exhale large amounts of vapor. Vapor from e-cigarettes settles on indoor surfaces, much like thirdhand smoke from burning tobacco or marijuana. From research about thirdhand smoke from tobacco products, we know that nicotine deposited on household surfaces reacts to produce carcinogenic compounds called tobacco specific nitrosamines. A similar reaction could occur with the nicotine from e-cigarette vapours.”

San Diego State University’s Georg Matt, lead author of the research, said: “We wanted to see if there were any solutions available for people who live in homes that are polluted with thirdhand smoke. We explored three options for cleaning, and tested apartments for nicotine contamination before, after, and three months after each cleaning.

We would like to be able to tell residents that there is a simple way to remove this contamination permanently, but that is not what we found. What we can say, as a result of this study, is that there are two important steps you can take to reduce thirdhand smoke contamination and make your home safer.”

Matt’s work is ideological drivel hidden behind a smokescreen of supposed scientific respectability. Someone living in a home with a vaper is at far more risk from the formaldehyde being released from the furniture than any form of eliquid or vapour. Yet again, amoral scientists are taking money to tell half a message, placing the lives of smokers and ex-smokers at risk by promoting an unfounded fear agenda.


  • Remediating Thirdhand Smoke Pollution in Multiunit Housing: Temporary Reductions and the Challenges of Persistent Reservoirs – [link]
  • Thirdhand Smoke website – [link]

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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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