It’s no surprise that sales of electronic cigarettes have exploded recently – doubling in 2014 to an estimated $1.7 billion.
By Allison Gaito – February 19th, 2016
Something that is surprising, though – reports of e-cigarettes actually exploding and severely injuring consumers. These recent reports are putting the vaping industry and its customers on alert.
One man in Colorado had his neck broken, and another in Florida had his lungs damaged so badly that he had to be put in a medically-induced coma.
Now the question is: are these injuries stemming from the devices or operator error?
Last month, a 26-year-old New Hampshire man suffered second and third-degree burns on his legs and hand when his e-cigarette battery exploded in his pants pocket.
“It’s very painful, he calls me every day and he’s in a lot of pain,” said Laura McCrea, the victim’s mother.
Now, he’s suing the maker of the device and the store that sold it to him.
Experts say it’s likely similar incidents will continue to pop up as millions of people continue to use electronic cigarettes.
Between 2009 and 2014, 2.5 million Americans reported using electronic cigarettes. In that same time period, the U.S. Fire Administration found 25 reports of explosions and fires involving the devices, leading to nine injuries.
Eyewitness News checked with the Lifespan group of hospitals in Rhode Island. Doctors with the hospitals report seeing at least two patients in the first few weeks of 2016, claiming to have been burned by electronic cigarettes.
Warwick vape shop owner Darin Tripoli believes in most cases, it is the cigarette’s battery in combination with human error that is to blame for many of the incidents.
“It’s sad when we have isolated incidents due to improper storage of a battery and it blankets the whole industry,” Tripoli told Eyewitness News.
In the case of the New Hampshire man, Tripoli suspects the electronic cigarette came in contact with another piece of metal, like keys or coins. Tripoli advises batteries should never be loose but stored in something as simple as a plastic battery container available for sale at vape shops.
Tripoli said accidents also tend to happen when a user combines parts from different devices to get a large cloud of vapor.
“Someone who likes to push the limits of his device and use different configurations from one company to another company – and they’re combining things to make their device more powerful – perform better than what it’s really intended for,” Tripoli said of the hobbyists most associated with electronic cigarette explosions.
While the debate continues over whether electronic cigarettes are useful in helping tobacco smokers quit, Tripoli said there are a few rules when it comes to properly using and maintaining an electronic cigarette:
- Use the recommended batteries and charger for your device
- Store electronic cigarette batteries in a designated, plastic container
- Inspect batteries regularly, checking to make sure there isn’t any corrosion on the contacts
- Avoid overcharging batteries by leaving them on a charger for too long