A study by Tobacco Control found over 2,000 instances of e-cigarettes, also known as vape pens, exploding and causing burn injuries between 2015 and 2017. The injuries are often severe, as vape pens are used by mouth and typically stored in the user’s pocket. The U.S. Fire Administration says that the explosions and burns are due to the lithium ion batteries used by most manufacturers.
“It is this intimate contact between the body and the battery that is most responsible for the severity of the injuries that have been seen,” the organization said in a report.
A 24-year-old Texas man is but the latest victim of an exploding vape pen. On Jan. 27, he was vaping in his car outside a shop selling the devices when, suddenly, the pen exploded and sent metal shards into his face and neck. According to his grandmother, authorities said he thrashed around, fell out of the car, and tried to regain his balance by reaching for the hood or trunk of the car. He could not.
The young electrician was in the hospital for two days before he finally died. According to the medical examiner something, presumably a shard from the vape pen, penetrated the carotid artery in his neck. He had also had a stroke.
“He was a real sweet kid,” the young man’s father told the Washington Post. “Before now I haven’t gone two days without talking to him in 25 years.”
His family mourns the man who was always ready to lend a helping hand. He was the third generation of electricians in the family. According to his friends, he adored his grandmother, whom he lived with for some time and helped with housework as she dealt with health issues. He was an organ donor.
When he was eight, he helped his younger sister through a frightening drive through a storm. In order to calm her fears, he put on an impromptu puppet show in the back seat, according to the Post.
Vape pens have been criticized for several reasons. First, the government fears that vape liquid containing nicotine is being acquired by underage users. Nicotine is known both to be addictive and to cause cancer. Second, government agencies have yet to determine that the liquid is safe to vaporize and inhale.
So far, no one has died from inhaling vaporizer liquid, even when it contains nicotine. People are dying from faulty vape pens exploding or their batteries igniting. The manufacturers cannot rely on the defense that only a tiny percentage of users have suffered burns or explosion injuries. They have a legal duty to protect all those who use their products as directed.