As rates of cigarette smoking continue to decline in the U.S., Americans are turning to an alternative trend: e-cigarettes. So-called "vaping" has become immensely popular, with many users claiming (with almost no medical evidence) that these products are a healthy alternative to smoking tobacco.
It remains to be seen whether the vapor from e-cigarettes is indeed safe, even if it does prove to be less harmful than cigarette smoke. But the devices used for vaping may be dangerous in and of themselves. In a growing number of incidents receiving national news coverage, e-cigarette users are reporting serious injuries caused by devices that allegedly explode while in use or while in close proximity to the user.
In what may be the most recent case (of many), a 30-year-old Idaho man was hospitalized with gruesome injuries to his face, mouth, and throat after an e-cigarette allegedly exploded in his mouth. A news story about the incident notes that the explosion knocked out seven of the man's teeth, caused second-degree burns on his cheeks and left plastic shards embedded in his throat and lips.
He also posted pictures of his bathroom, where the explosion took place. There is a large piece missing from the vanity, which was allegedly cracked by the downward force of the explosion. There are also scorch marks on the wall and ceiling.
If this had been an isolated incident, the victim would still deserve compensation for his injuries, but there might not have been a public health concern. However, this is one of probably a dozen stories to make news in the last two years alleging serious injuries caused by exploding or spontaneously combusting e-cigarettes.
All products carry some inherent risk, but this seems well beyond the acceptable level of risk for a product designed to vaporize water and other liquids. It may not be long before injured "vapers" unite in legal action against manufacturers of these apparently dangerous devices.