In case you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, and haven’t heard the stories about electronic cigarettes exploding in people’s mouths and causing sever injuries, we’re here to let you know all about it – why this happens and how you can prevent it happening to you.
When Hon Lik invented the e-cigarette, over 10 years ago, he wanted to provide the world with a safer alternative to smoking that could give them the same satisfaction as analog cigarettes. E-cigs were created with safety in mind, and for over a decade there has been nothing but speculation regarding any kind of negative effects on the human body. Although the FDA and other health organizations have been warning people about the dangers of using e-cigarettes for lack of extensive research, exploding electronic cigarettes were never reported by the media, until this year. It was bound to happen at some point, I guess.
First there was the story of Tom Holloway, a 57-year-old man from Florida, who sustained serious injuries to his face, after an electronic cigarette exploded in his mouth. The Vietnam veteran had been using e-cigarettes for two years, when one night, his wife heard a firecracker-like sound from the study and walked in to find Tom with blood on his face. The e-cig had exploded, knocking out some of his teeth and part of his tongue, and setting the room on fire. The man was rushed to the hospital, but the device he used was completely shattered so there was no way to tell if it was an off-the-shelf electronic cigarette or a modified model. Although we haven’t been able to find an official statement, a blast that powerful must have been caused by a really powerful battery, or stacked batteries, which some vapers use to get more vapor out of their e-cigs.
Just as things were cooling down after the Florida incident, there was another report of an earlier accident that had occurred in Denver, Colorado. Phillip Hahn had purchased a Prodigy V3.1 starter kit from Pure Smoker, and despite warnings on the company’s website against the use of non-protected batteries, he decided to save a few bucks by buying a couple of regular batteries from his local RadioShack. While he was using the modified Prodigy V3.1 e-cigarette, the stacked batteries inside exploded, causing serious damage to the man’s face, mouth and eyes. Hahn was hospitalized for eight days and has taken legal action against Pure Smoker. Even if the device was defective to begin with, the fact that he tampered with the e-cigarette despite warnings, makes a ruling in his favor very unlikely.
By now, news of e-cigarettes exploding in people’s mouths were becoming very common, and they were making the entire vaping community look bad. Even big companies like NJOY weren’t safe from this threat, as a woman from Muskogee, Oklahoma, claimed a disposable NJOY e-cig had exploded in her hand. The blast was apparently so powerful it knocked a 15-pound salt lamp fell off a shelf, a light bulb shattered and an ornament knocked from the wall “across the room”. The woman wasn’t injured, she just had a ringing in one ear. However, the president of NJOY immediately investigated the case and spoke to the woman in question, who confirmed the e-cigarettes did not explode, and was in fact still intact.
It was becoming clear this was another means to put electronic cigarettes on the spot and emphasize how dangerous they are to users. There have now been around 8 recent reported cases of exploding electronic cigarettes in America, quite a big number, considering no news outlet had ever mentioned such incidents before. Are they all true? Who can say really, with so many bogus reports going around on the Internet these days, one would have to thoroughly investigate each of them to be sure, and that takes time and resources.
What e-cigarette users have to understand is fooling around with these devices can be very dangerous. According to Wikipedia “Modding refers to the act of modifying a piece of hardware or software or anything else for that matter, to perform a function not originally conceived or intended by the designer” and that goes for electronic cigarettes, too. But there are people in the vaping scene who actually know what they are doing, who have expert knowledge in electronics and have a good idea of how to build a more powerful device without putting themselves at risk. Then there are respectable companies out there which actually sell mods, and vouch for their safety.
On the other hand, we have people who buy dodgy components from their local store and use them to get more vapor out of their units. Even using the wrong charger for an e-cigarette could have dire consequences, so imagine using stacked batteries or other shady techniques to make mods.
Before you jump on the “all e-cigarettes are dangerous” bandwagon, take into consideration that quality electronic cigarettes come with safeguards like automatic battery shutoffs or smart chargers that prevent overheating, and are properly tested and aged before being sold to users. It’s true they might not all perform as well as we’d like, but safety must be considered before any other factors. According to experts, regular e-cigarette batteries can’t do much damage even if they explode (which is very unlikely).
In closing, just consider tobacco cigarettes eventually kill about one in three people who use them, tens of people worldwide die each year testing 9V batteries on their tongue to see if they work, and dozens of people have been injured or killed by exploding phone batteries. Nothing in this world is completely safe, but we don’t stop using them, why should e-cigarettes be any different?