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Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, have become very popular over the last couple of years. It’s estimated that at least 13% of all American adults have tried them (and that number is rising). Compare that to smokers of traditional cigarettes: Just under 17% of Americans smoke, and that percentage is the lowest since tracking began. In 1965, it was 42%.
Traditional cigarettes come with many known health risks, and e-cigarettes have been a growing industry because they’re viewed as much safer. In some ways, they are: E-cigarettes don’t seem to result in the same increases to the risk of heart disease, stroke, and artery damage that traditional cigarettes do. In other ways, however, they’re just as dangerous, if not more so: The chemicals in e-cigarettes have been shown to damage lung tissue and weaken natural immunity, while the nicotine in them can cause important and serious changes in the brain, especially in younger users. They also might promote the same kind of pre-cancerous changes to cells that traditional cigarettes do.
But apparently there is also another risk to e-cigarette—causing traffic accidents.
In a strange case that made the news in early January, a truck crash on I-65 in Indiana was blamed on an e-cigarette. Full details are murky, but according to reports, an e-cigarette exploded in a truck driver’s face, causing him to veer off the road and crash into a guardrail. The driver was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of burns to his face. The driver was not otherwise injured in the crash, and no other motorists or vehicles were involved. Meanwhile, the highway was closed for nearly three hours while the truck was righted and moved away.
This sort of incident is rare. According to a 2014 study by the United States Fire Administration, in the previous five years only 25 explosions and fires could be definitively blamed on e-cigarettes. None of those incidents had a fatal outcome, and only nine resulted in any injury. Their conclusion was that most, if not all, of these incidents could be blamed on the lithium-ion batteries, which have also been implicated in other consumer product fires and explosions (including several much-publicized hoverboard fires late in 2015).
Smoking has long been recognized as a health risk. Vaping (using an e-cigarette) seems to have risks of its own. Despite whatever health risks it might present, when a product like an e-cigarette is used as intended, a consumer should expect it to operate safely, not explode in their face. In this particular situation, the damage could have been much worse: The driver might have crashed into other vehicles, leading to serious physical injury and property damage.
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a defective product, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis Products Liability Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.