Increasing Risk of E-Cigarette Explosions and New FDA Report

Recent incidents of exploding electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes or vaping) are causing serious concern among regulators and users alike.

A 17-month old report from the U.S. Fire Administration found that there were 25 reported e-cigarette injuries between 2009 and 2014. However, that number may be much higher, with increasing use of e-cigarettes in recent years. That report noted that the design of e-cigarettes may make them more likely than other products with lithium-ion batteries to explode when the battery fails.

It is reported that more than 2.5 million Americans used electronic cigarettes in 2014. Many individuals are switching from smoking traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes, with an understanding that e-cigarettes could potentially be less-harmful than traditional cigarettes. However, increasing frequency of explosion incidents is cause for serious concern.

Though there is no single reason for these failures, there is an industry-wide lack of manufacturing standards and testing. Even further, these explosions often occur with no precursor indication that something is wrong with the device. In many instances, consumers have had these devices explode while in the mouths or close to their faces. With minimal standards for e-cigarettes, consumers have little guidance as to whether these products are safe, particularly with respect to less-expensive, potentially lower quality units.

A new FDA report categorized vaping liquids as "tobacco products", thus subjecting them to new regulatory oversight. However, these actions do not address the rising concerns for product safety and the potential for e-cigarette explosions.

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