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E-cigarettes hit the market in 2007 and quickly gained popularity, marketed as a means for reducing or quitting cigarette smoking. They are almost certainly less harmful than cigarettes, although estimates vary significantly from 50 to 80 percent less harmful.
Whatever the specifics, they continue to raise health concerns because they contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde. The more immediate threat? Burns from exploding e-cigarette batteries.
E-cigarettes, or vapes, are powered by a tiny lithium ion battery, which must be charged regularly. In many cases, explosions occur during charge, but they’ve also happened while the e-cigarettes are in pockets or in use (notably knocking out seven teeth recently by exploding in a user’s mouth—a story that includes some pretty grim photos).
Back in 2014, a report by the Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that e-cigarettes become “flaming rockets” when their batteries fail, unlike other products that rely on those same batteries. In 2015, the Department of Transportation banned e-cigarettes in checked luggage because of the threat of fire. Recently, a New York man was burned on his hand and leg requiring a skin graft after an e-cigarette fire. And in an ironic twist, the attorney for the defendant in an arson case had to leave the courtroom when his pants caught fire because of a faulty e-cigarette battery.
Of course, the short answer here is not to use them, but if danger were a reliable deterrent, nobody would smoke cigarettes these days or ride a motorcycle without a helmet. Going cold turkey on anything that brings pleasure isn’t exactly appealing to most of us.
The use of e-cigarettes grows at an astonishing rate year after year, especially among young people. Maybe the recent involvement of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will help spread public awareness and provide some eye-opening research. (The FDA didn’t begin overseeing e-cigarettes until 2016.)
In the meantime, we imagine the law will work like it’s supposed to, and the growing number of suits over vaping injuries will act as an impetus for the companies who manufacture and sell e-cigarettes to improve their practices and make their products safer.
If you or a loved one have been injured after using a defective product such as e-cigarette, 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.
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