E-cigarettes still operate in an unusual space in the U.S. Many of the devices and liquids consumers use aren’t tightly regulated. Though there have been steps in the right direction over the last couple of years, these devices still pose a threat when something goes wrong, which is exactly what happened earlier this year in Fort Worth.
A man from north Fort Worth was at a vape shop in January 2019 when his vape pen exploded, and a piece of the device pierced a major artery. Twenty-four-year-old William Brown was pronounced dead at John Peter Smith Hospital two days after the explosion.
A Continuing Problem Among E-Cig Users in the U.S.
Between 2009 and 2016, 133 people have suffered acute injuries from e-cigarettes and related devices, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. These devices are potentially dangerous for different reasons, chief among them being the use of the lithium-ion battery, a component responsible for many fires, explosions, and recalls over recent years.
The lithium-ion battery has been a concern in laptops and cellphones, leading to high-profile TSA bans and smartphone recalls. Faulty lithium-ion batteries are especially dangerous in e-cigarettes, which users stick in their mouth to inhale vapor. More than half of the incidents reviewed by the U.S. Fire Administration occurred when vape pens were in users’ pockets or actively being used when the device caught fire or exploded.
The U.S. Fire Administration notes that these devices are also dangerous when they explode, because of their shape. Vape pens “behave like ‘flaming rockets’ when a battery fails,” according to their report.
Consumers Deserve Accountability by Manufacturers
William Brown’s death was not the first caused by an e-cigarette. In 2018, a man in St. Petersburg, Florida, was killed when his vaping device exploded and sent a projectile into his head.
Other users have suffered serious burns. In 2016, a New York man’s e-cigarette exploded while in his pocket, causing third-degree burns. In 2015, a man in Naples, Florida, suffered burns on his face, chest, hands, and lungs after his e-cigarette exploded.
More than one in 10 adults in the U.S. have tried an e-cigarette, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 4% of adults use e-cigarettes daily or frequently, often to stop smoking tobacco cigarettes. But the use of e-cigarettes isn’t limited to former smokers. About one-third of high school students have vaped, and research indicates that e-cigarettes have introduced young people to nicotine.
There is so much we don’t know about e-cigarettes. We don’t know how safe they are for long-term use. We don’t know whether e-cigarette use might be a gateway to traditional cigarettes. However, we do know that more people are using these devices and that they deserve to get the safest e-cigarettes possible.
As these devices become increasingly popular, it’s vital that we make sure they pose no immediate threat to consumers. Whether the answer is increased regulation, safer batteries, or greater public awareness remains to be seen. One thing is for sure: When a manufacturer sells a defective product, there should be consequences.
Product liability claims offer consumers a way to get compensation for injuries they’ve suffered. If you’ve been injured by an exploding e-cigarette or by another faulty product, you have the right to explore your legal options. Contact the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant to schedule a free consultation with our team.