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Electronic cigarette use and indoor air quality in a natural setting
  1. Eric K Soule,
  2. Sarah F Maloney,
  3. Tory R Spindle,
  4. Alyssa K Rudy,
  5. Marzena M Hiler,
  6. Caroline O Cobb
  1. Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Center for the Study of Tobacco Products, Richmond, Virginia, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Eric K Soule, Virginia Commonwealth University, Department of Psychology, Center for the Study of Tobacco Products, P.O. Box 980205, Richmond, VA 23298-0205, USA; eksoule{at}


Introduction Secondhand smoke (SHS) from combustible cigarettes causes numerous diseases. Policies have been developed to prevent SHS exposure from indoor cigarette use to reduce health risks to non-smokers. However, fewer policies have been implemented to deter electronic cigarette (ECIG) use indoors, and limited research has examined the impact of secondhand exposure to ECIG aerosol.

Methods Indoor air quality was measured at a 2-day ECIG event held in a large room at a hotel. Fine particulate matter (PM) was measured using 2 devices that measured concentrations of PM 2.5 μm aerodynamic diameter or smaller (PM2.5). Measurements were taken before the event, over 2 days when the event was ongoing, and the day after the event. PM2.5 measurements were also taken from the restaurant at the hotel hosting the event and a restaurant at a nearby hotel.

Results During 6 time points when the event was ongoing, between 59 and 86 active ECIG users were present in the event room (room volume=4023 m3). While the event was ongoing, median PM2.5 concentrations in the event room increased from a baseline of 1.92–3.20 μg/m3 to concentrations that ranged from 311.68 μg/m3 (IQR 253.44–411.84 μg/m3) to 818.88 μg/m3 (IQR 760.64–975.04 μg/m3).

Conclusions PM2.5 concentrations observed at the ECIG event were higher than concentrations reported previously in hookah cafés and bars that allow cigarette smoking. This study indicates that indoor ECIG use exposes non-users to secondhand ECIG aerosol. Regulatory bodies should consider establishing policies that prohibit ECIG use anywhere combustible cigarette use is prohibited.

  • Electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • Public policy
  • Secondhand smoke

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  • Contributors EKS and COC made significant contributions to the study design, data analysis and writing of the manuscript. SFM, TRS, AKR, MMH and COC conducted all data collection and provided critical review of the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P50DA036105 and the Center for Tobacco Products of the US Food and Drug Administration.

  • Disclaimer The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the Food and Drug Administration.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement This manuscript contains all data collected for this study. Data are available by email request from the corresponding author (EKS).