E-cigarettes are devices designed to deliver nicotine to the user without ever having to light up a conventional cigarette.
These devices were first patented in 2003, and have been available for sale in the U.S. since 2007.
Manufacturers of these products advertise them as safer than traditional forms of smoking, and as a way to actually quit smoking.
Right now, the jury is still out on the long-term health effects from e-cigarettes.
Recent studies have shown a link between the use of e-cigarettes and a very serious and irreversible lung disease, known as “popcorn lung.”
The lung disease is a result of e-cigarettes being flavored with a chemical that can cause scarring of the air sacs in the lungs resulting in the thickening and narrowing of the airways.
Symptoms of popcorn lung include coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, similar to the symptoms of COPD.
But what we’re focusing on today are the lawsuits being filed against the manufacturers of e-cigarettes because the lithium-ion batteries in the devices have been known to explode during normal use and during the charging of batteries.
Eighty percent of the fires with e-cigarettes occur while the device is being charged in a USB port. The problem stems from the fact that different USB ports put out different levels of voltage and current, which can cause the battery in the e-cigarette to overheat.
This overheating triggers a reaction that has been called “thermal run-away,” and once this reaction begins, there is nothing that can be done to stop it.
This thermal run-away creates a super-heated explosion that has caused second or third degree burns AND in some cases the e-cigarette explosions have caused bone fractures, muscle damage, and blindness.
You need to understand that these aren’t just small sparks – these are full throttle explosions.
According to a report by FEMA in 2014, these devices essentially become missiles with an explosive impact. The FEMA document states e-cigarettes are “more likely than other products with lithium-ion batteries to behave like ‘flaming rockets’ when a battery fails.”
And just like real rockets and missiles, the explosions created by these e-cigarette batteries can be devastating.
In 2012, a man in Florida had an e-cigarette explode in his mouth, shattering most of his teeth and blowing off a portion of his tongue.
In December 2016, an e-cigarette device exploded in a man’s pocket while riding a bus in California. The explosion caused third degree burns and that seems to be a repetitive problem.
In January of this year, an Idaho man had an e-cigarette blow up, knocking out seven of his teeth and leaving 2nd degree burns on his face. It also shattered his bathroom sink when the exploding device flew onto his counter.
The FDA has documented more than 130 incidents of battery explosions since these devices were brought onto the market.
Unfortunately, it was not until 2016 that the FDA even acquired the authority to regulate these devices.
But formal science-based public hearings are not set to even begin until April 2017.
This problem will only become worse, as the use of these devices continues to grow.
More than 3 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2015, making these devices the most utilized tobacco products among kids.
Nearly four percent of adults in the U.S. regularly use e-cigarettes.
The growing use can be attributed to both the number of people using the devices to quit smoking traditional tobacco, AND to the aggressive marketing campaigns that Big Tobacco is using to sell e-cigarettes.