Press release

Scottish study to explore vascular effects of “passive vaping”

Published on 7 June 2023

The potential health effects of passive vaping are to be explored for the first time as part of an important new Scottish research study.

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Experts from the Universities of Dundee, Abertay, and St Andrews will collaborate on the Vascular Effects of Passive Exposure (VAPE) study, which aims to determine what − if any − health impacts vaping in close proximity to others has on a person’s vascular health.

Researchers are looking to recruit 300 women and children to assist with the study, which is backed by the NHS Tayside Endowment Fund. By answering simple health questions and providing samples of saliva and urine, it is hoped that more can be learned about one of modern society’s most pressing health issues.

“The health effects of passive smoking are well-established, but very little is known about the potential risks of passive vaping,” said Jacob George, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Therapeutics at Dundee and VAPE’s Chief Investigator.

“Following the explosion in popularity of e-cigarettes, determining how these impact on the vascular health of bystanders is critically important. These devices are often perceived as less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, but there is potential that they could be having negative health impacts on those living with or sharing spaces with those using them, including children.”

Professor George is one of the world's leading authorities on the cardiovascular effects of vaping. In 2019 he published the findings of VESUVIUS, a British Heart Foundation-commissioned study on the vascular impact of e-cigarettes versus tobacco cigarettes. It found that chronic smokers who transitioned to e-cigarettes made significant gains in vascular health. It also found that women who made the move made increased gains in health over men, which is why the VAPE study is specifically focusing on female subjects.

VAPE researchers are looking to recruit women over the age of 18 who do not vape or smoke, and children between the ages of five and 12, who live in a household where there is regular exposure to tobacco smoke or e-cigarette vapes. Recruits will be asked to attend a brief appointment with investigators, where basic measurements will be taken and health information recorded.

The following day, participants will be asked to provide saliva and urine samples, which will be collected from their homes and analysed. Both adults and children will receive shopping vouchers up the value of £40 for their participation.

“Non-smokers may actively avoid people smoking tobacco cigarettes, being aware of the negative health effects and because of the associated smell of cigarette smoke,” continues Professor George.

“However, less stigma surrounds vaping as they are often manufactured with sweet, synthetic smells that may not prove as unpleasant to someone who does not use the device. Because of this lack of a deterrent to non-vapers, it is imperative that any risks to vascular health from passive vaping are identified and that is what the VAPE study aims to resolve.”

Professor of Food Technology and Chemistry at Abertay University, Alberto Fiore, has led previous studies looking at vaping, including a project that aimed to mitigate the formation of dangerous compounds formed during the vaping process.

He said, “Vaping remains a better option than smoking and has clear benefits when viewed as a cessation tool, but the recent growth in popularity, particularly among children, is a cause for concern.

“Despite that growth, vaping is still a relatively new lifestyle choice in terms of us fully understanding the cardiovascular effects, so it is vital that we continue to research both active and passive vaping to build up a reliable dataset that can inform any future decision making around health policy, regulation and marketing rules.”

Anybody wishing to learn more about or volunteer for the VAPE study can do so here.


Jonathan Watson

Senior Press Officer

+44 (0)1382 381489