Electronic cigarettes, known as e-cigarettes, have been touted as a way to smoke without damaging the respiratory system. E-cigarettes and their variants, one of which is known as a vapor pen, work by vaporizing nicotine, giving users both the feeling of smoking and the nicotine that longtime smokers need without the tar and smoke that cause cancer and respiratory illnesses. These cigarettes have the added benefit of not causing smokers and their home and office environments to smell like tobacco.
This sounds great to many smokers who want to quit, but are not ready or are unable to do so. It’s a great solution to the problem of smoking, or so it was hoped, both by the manufacturers of e-cigarettes and smokers looking for a way to help themselves stop or cut back.
Unfortunately, the promise of e-cigarettes was not fully realized. Whether e-cigarettes are really more healthful than tobacco cigarettes has become a matter of debate. Even more important, the safety of e-cigarettes, as opposed to their health benefits, has been called into question by several incidents that show the possible dangers of these so-called smokeless cigarettes.
Numerous stories of exploding e-cigarettes have tarnished the image of the product intended to help people quit. For example, a veteran who had survived tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan without injury was severely injured when a vapor pen exploded while he was smoking it. His hand and abdomen were scorched by the explosion, which sent shrapnel into a nearby wall. The injured veteran was hospitalized.
The incident prompted Debbie Dingell, a congresswoman from the veteran’s home state, Michigan, to send a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting tighter regulation of e-cigarettes and vapor pens and requiring manufacturers of these products to list ingredients and warnings on the packaging. It also prompted Dingell to review other incidents of injuries caused by e-cigarettes, uncovering a surprising number of such incidents.
A San Diego man was injured when his e-cigarette exploded while he was shopping in a liquor store. The man was burned and the store was damaged. A man in Texas was hurt when an e-cigarette battery exploded in the man’s pocket, sending sparks flying from his crotch area. A teenager in Anaheim, California, was badly burned when an e-cigarette exploded.
Problems with e-cigarettes are not limited to the United States. Media and news outlets in the United Kingdom have also reported numerous incidents of exploding e-cigarettes.
People who were injured while using e-cigarettes should contact a knowledgeable product liability lawyer to learn about their legal rights and options.