A New York resident was seriously injured while smoking an e-cigarette. The device, alternatively known as a vaporizer, exploded in his face. The blast knocked out his teeth, ripped a hole in his tongue, and caused his hands to be covered in burns. "[It was] like an M80 bomb went off in my mouth," the man, Kenneth Barbero, told CNN.
E-cigarette explosions are causing serious concern across the nation. NBC News reports that since e-cigarettes are unregulated, we may not know exactly how many injuries they have caused. However, a report from the U.S. Fire Administration found that there were 25 e-cigarette injuries between 2009 and 2014.
In recent years, the number of Americans using e-cigarettes has rapidly increased. The U.S. Fire Administration report noted that "[t]he shape and construction of e-cigarettes can make them more likely than other products with lithium-ion batteries to behave like 'flaming rockets' when a battery fails".
"We initially thought this was a rare event, but this is increasing in frequency," Dr. Elisha Brownson, a trauma and burn critical-care fellow at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, told NBC News. Dr. Brownson explained that, "[w]e're seeing significant tissue injury as well as damage to the mouth or the hands and the tendons". Significantly, "[i]t basically combines a flame burn and a tissue blast injury."
In November, 2016, a man working at a wine store in Grand Central Terminal suffered serious burns to his hand and leg when an e-cigarette exploded in his pocket. A surveillance camera captured the incident on video. ABC News reported on the story. "Out of nowhere, a huge explosion came from one of my co-worker's pockets. It just shot at us", said one of his colleagues who saw the incident. Another colleague remarked, "[h]is pocket just engulfed in flames. There were sparks. I thought it was fireworks like Fourth of July". He continued, "I thought he had a pocket full of fireworks and then I realized he had an e-cigarette."
Lobbyists for e-cigarette makers have defended their products. A representative from the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association told CNN that, "[i]t's not so much an issue of the e-vapor product but with the lithium batteries they are using, and most are mismatched to the charger".
If you have been injured by e-cigarette malfunction, please do not hesitate to call us for a free legal consultation.