Electronic cigarettes, or vaporizers, have become increasingly popular in Chicago and throughout the country. Those who use these devices tend to believe that e-cigarettes give them the freedom to smoke in public and spare them the dangerous health consequences of smoking regular tobacco.
Despite the perceived safety of e-cigarettes, recent product liability lawsuits involving e-cigarette explosions have made headlines, leading consumers to question how safe these devices actually are.
Whether you smoke e-cigarettes or know someone who does, the following is important information about what could be causing these accidents as well as what is being done to protect those who use e-cigarettes.
According to consumer information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), e-cigarettes, vaporizers, vape pens, and hookah pens are all common types of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).
These devices use liquid cartridges to produce a vapor that simulates both the smoke and the overall experience of inhaling on an actual cigarette while delivering varying levels of nicotine to the user.
While electronic cigarettes do not contain tar – a harmful substance found in most cigarettes – they do contain propylene glycol, glycerin and other ingredients, including nicotine, which do have potentially ill effects on an e-smoker’s health.
Close to 15 percent of all adults have tried or now use electronic cigarettes regularly, the FDA estimates. Use of these devices has become increasingly popular and common among middle school and high school students. A reported three million users of e-cigarettes were in this age bracket in 2015, and these numbers are expected to increase.
Unfortunately, while the variety of flavors and devices offered by e-cigarette and vape manufacturers appeal to young people, and adults are lured to e-cigarette use as an option to avoid smoking, many of these e-cigarette users are unaware of the potential dangers these devices present.
While the FDA considers ENDS devices potentially dangerous due to the nicotine and other chemicals they contain, other serious dangers are associated with the manufacture, sale and use of these devices that the general public needs to know.
Many headlines and news reports indicate there is a risk of injuries caused by exploding e-cigarettes and vapes that are currently on the market.
A recent NBC News story on e-cigarette explosions indicates that serious injuries have been reported at hospitals throughout the country as the result of these explosions. The injuries have included severe burns to the hands, mouth and face as well as fractured bones and loss of eyesight.
The NBC report points to several possible causes for vape explosions, including:
According to the NBC report, e-cigarettes and vaporizers rely on small, yet powerful lithium-ion batteries for power. These same batteries have been involved in Hoverboard fires and cell phone explosions. They are subject to failure, and defects could occur when they are subjected to extreme hot or cold temperatures.
When the batteries in e-cigarettes devices fail, it is often while the user is handling the device or holding it close to the face. The result can be serious injuries that could lead to scarring and disfigurement.
An April 2016 ABC News report on e-cigarette explosions detailed the circumstances surrounding a car fire that occurred in Naples, Florida – an example of the increasing dangers posed by exploding e-cig batteries. The fire occurred when the e-cigarette exploded after being left in the vehicle by the owner, who clearly did not suspect the potential dangers.
As the e-cigarette exploded and the car became engulfed in flames, the man called 911, concerned that the gas tank in the car itself would explode due to the fire and cause damage to the surrounding houses as well as injuries to residents.
The increasing number of these adverse events has prompted the FDA to get more involved in regulating the e-cigarette industry.
In response to numerous consumer complaints and news reports, the FDA has officially taken over regulatory authority on all ENDS devices. This allows the FDA to protect e-cigarette users by doing the following:
In addition to helping warn consumers of the dangers associated with e-cigarettes and being able to more effectively track exploding e-cigarette brands and the injuries they cause, the FDA will also be able to maintain a better watch over the import of the devices from other countries, including the flavorings, chemicals and other contents contained within their liquid cartridges.
In dealing specifically with issues regarding the lithium-ion batteries which power these devices, the FDA will be looking at ways in which these products can be modified to prevent e-cigarettes from exploding and injuring users.
If you believe you have been hurt by a defective e-cigarette product, contact Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. for a free consultation. Our experienced product liability attorneys can provide the aggressive legal representation you need to hold defective product manufacturers, distributors and sellers accountable for the injuries their products cause.
We can advise you on the types of damages you may be able to claim, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and property damages. We will ensure your rights and interests are protected.
We serve clients throughout Chicago, Waukegan and the state of Illinois. Reach us today to receive a free consultation.