The e-cigarette industry has grown to epic proportions over the past decade, with millions of users worldwide choosing to “vape” as a healthier, safer alternative to smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes. But are these electronic versions actually safe? According to FEMA, explosions and fires caused by e-cigarettes in general were previously thought to be rare. Alarmingly, these occurrences appear to be on the rise.
Between 2009 and 2014, there were 25 total reported incidents of fire or explosion that involved an e-cig in the United States. These incidents resulted in nine injuries, with two of them being serious burns. By 2015, that number had skyrocketed. One study reveals that healthcare workers at a single major hospital treated a whopping 15 individuals for e-cigarette injuries between October 2015 and June 2016 alone. At another hospital, workers reported treating four cases of e-cig injuries from December 2015 to early January 2016.
Until recently, the FDA had made little headway in the regulation of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). This means that many of the products throughout America were never tested for safety.
What is Causing E-cigarette Injuries?
The lithium-ion batteries that are used in ENDS, combined with product design flaws, lack of labeling, and unclear instructions raise the risk for e-cigarette injuries. In all of the cases of e-cig explosions reported so far, the lithium battery was involved in some way. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, victims commonly suffer flame burns, blast injuries and chemical burns from these incidents.
How Severe are E-cig Injuries?
E-cigarette explosions can cause minor, insignificant injuries that require very little to no medical intervention, or they can result in severe, and sometimes permanent damage. Sometimes, the injuries are so significant that victims are left physically disabled or with long term psychological trauma. Common injuries experienced from e-cigarette explosions include:
- Thigh, leg and groin burns
- Severe eye injuries
- Facial burns
- Burns and blast injuries to the mouth
- Hand and finger burns and blast injuries
Who is Liable for E-cig Injuries?
When individuals become injured due to an explosive e-cigarette, they can file a lawsuit to seek compensation for the damages caused. Defective products claims can be brought when there is a design defect or a manufacturing defect, as well as when adequate labeling, instructions and warnings are not provided. Individuals may be able to seek compensation from the manufacturer, the distributor, and the retailer of the device.