Between 2009 and 2016, the FDA recorded 134 separate cases in the United States of e-cigarettes exploding. When the batteries overheat, they can catch on fire. And then, boom.
The Food and Drug Administration is planning to hold a public workshop in April to “gather information and stimulate discussion” about the matter. They will present medical experts, scientists, people involved in the manufacture and distribution of e-cigarettes, academics and public health officials.
Fichael Felberbaum, an FDA spokesman, said of the issue, “We remain concerned about the adverse events associated with the use of these products as reported in the news.”
Last year, the FDA announced that it was going to start regulating e-cigarettes at the same level as it regulates normal cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.
Of the 134 explosions, 50 resulted in injuries and 67 incurred property damage in addition to the destroyed cig.
The Center for Tobacco Products published a report on the incidents, which said, “Some events have resulted in life-threatening injury, permanent disfigurement or disability, and major property damage.”
Ray Story, CEO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, says e-cigarettes aren’t to blame. “The issue that’s being discussed is exploding batteries. They’re stating it’s e-cigarettes, but it’s basically the battery itself.” He blames most of the explosions on misuse of replacement batteries.
“The battery itself was carried in pocket, and that pocket contained either multiple batteries as well as change, a set of keys and other metal objects that shorted that battery out,” Story explained. “That’s not the fault of the battery. It’s the fault of the retailer and ultimately the lack of knowledge of the consumer that causes these accidents.”
Story will be in attendance at the April conference. Language used in communication between tobacco product manufacturers, distributors, retailers and consumers regarding proper battery use will be under the microscope.
E-cigarettes recently earned the consternation of Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat. Schumer recently said he wished for a recall of “certain brands” of vaping products that are thought to be higher-risk for explosion.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in ten American adults have smoked an e-cig. If there is an ongoing risk of the cigarettes exploding, it’s a public health issue.
E-cigs are also growing in popularity. A surgeon general’s report issued recently says that e-cig use among high schoolers increased an impressive 900% between 2011 and 2015.
E-cigarettes were once thought to be a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. That image is coming increasingly under fire. So to speak.