While the popularity of electronic cigarettes (E-cigs) has been on the rise in the last few years, the industry is developing some explosive problems. The growing number of media reports in recent months involving cases of exploding E-cigarettes has brought to light the serious, albeit rare, occurrences accidents leaving victims with severe burns and other injuries using the alternative to the smoking product.
Since E-cigarettes were first available for sale in 2007, these devices that are built to vaporize nicotine-laced liquids have increased in popularity, especially among teens and lifelong smokers attempting to quit. A 2014 CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) research study revealed that approximately 25 percent of all high school students report having used an E-cig in the last 12 months. That number doubles to one in eight teenagers who have reported “smoking” an E-cigarette in the last month.
E-cigarettes are a huge industry that created more than $1.5 billion in sales in 2015, with numbers that are expected to more than quadruple by the end of 2018. However, there are serious mechanical problems to the battery-operated device that simply vaporizes liquids to produce an almost identical sensation to smoking cigarettes, complete with a hit of nicotine to the back of the “smoker’s” throat.
Explosions Occurring All over the United States
The number of reported incidences of electronic cigarettes exploding has been significantly hard on the vapor industry within the first half of 2016. Numerous accidents of exploding E-cigs causing injuries to vapor users have been reported in Kentucky, Florida, Maryland, Nevada and North Carolina.
Like newfangled hoverboards, E-cigs receive their power through lithium-ion batteries that contain electrolytes. However, it is the electrolytes that can easily combust through repeated use when the device overheats. This identical overheating problem has given pause to state, federal and local governments, regulatory agencies and manufacturers of other lithium battery operated devices including previously mentioned hoverboards, laptops and cell phones.
However, unlike larger electronic devices, the cylindrical shape of the E-cigs device can cause propulsion during the explosion. Numerous cases involving overheated E-cigarettes have caused the battery or the device itself to propel during the explosion creating the potential for the spread of fire.
Recently, the US Fire Administration Agency began investigating more than two dozen media reports of E-cigarettes said to have exploded between 2009 and 2014. The report indicates that four out of five incidences happened when the device was being charged. On two occasions, the device exploded while in the “smoker’s” mouth, leading to serious injury.
Investigations are showing that the problem is not always the result of a manufacturer error. In some cases, the explosion was the result of the consumer not using the proper charger or battery specifically designed to generate power for the electronic cigarette. The America Vaping Association President Gregory Conley stated that “When used and charged properly, [the E-cigs] pose nor more of a fire risk than other products that use lithium-ion batteries.”
Conley also insisted that “it’s a remote risk that is almost entirely unavoidable” because many electronic cigarettes allow the battery to be removed from the device during charging.
The FDA and Underwriters Laboratory
Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is weighing in on the problem and has proposed extending its authority over traditional tobacco products to encompass other devices including vaporizers and electronic cigarettes. However, new regulations involving health concerns are still in the initial proposal phase. The Administration says that further study of the device will need to be conducted before for the rulings can be developed, released and enforced.
The independent Underwriters Laboratory (UL) organization, known for its safety standards, has already developed safety standards for numerous lithium-ion batteries used in different products. However, no standards by the organization have been set specifically for electronic cigarettes.
It appears as though public opinion is taking the side of the Food and Drug Administration. This includes the more than 1800 out of 3000 American surveyed who agreed that E-cigs should be regulated like all other tobacco products. The previous ruling by the FDA found that the different designs of electronic cigarettes vary widely in quality and reliability. The Administration also noted that many of the products did not perform as indicated on its packaging.
Where and how these devices are designed and manufactured might be playing a part in the high incident rate of explosions. More than nine out of every 10 electronic cigarettes sold around the world are manufactured in Shenzhen China, known globally as the electronic manufacturing hub. The four major Chinese E-cigs manufacturers include Kanger, Joyetech, Sigilei and Aspire. The most major brand name devices are manufactured by these four companies, which may be a root of the problem.
As the demand has increased significantly over the last few years, many small factories in Shenzhen are now part of the supply chain to fill worldwide orders. The booming industry and the reliance on component makers have created a fragmentation in the vapor market. Facing pressure to ensure that orders are fulfilled, many manufacturers and importers for goal quality product checks and instead cut corners to ensure profits.
If you or your loved one have suffered serious injuries and burns caused by an exploding or malfunctioning electronic cigarette, the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help. We urge you to contact our law offices today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free case evaluation to discuss the financial compensation you deserve.