E-cigarette once deemed safer than conventional cigarettes are now causing serious health hazards of their own. While the danger is not from lung cancer, the number of burns and other injuries caused by the devices suddenly exploding has continued to rise, including a recent incident in which a young woman’s e-cigarette seared through her leg giving her 3rd degree burns after blasting in her pants pocket while she was driving home from a beauty parlor on Long Island. In another case, an e-cigarette exploded in a woman’s handbag as she shopped in a New Jersey Mall, while a man had his mouth severely burned when his device suddenly burst into flames while he was puffing on it.
In fact, the FDA, which began regulating e-cigarettes this past May, has verified 66 similar cases between 2015 and early 2016, as opposed to 92 incidents from 2009-September 2015. Meanwhile, officials at the agency believe that many more cases have gone unreported.
The problem has been traced back to defects in which the lithium-ion batteries (which help vaporize liquid nicotine into a mist). These are the same type of batteries linked to fires in Samsung phones as well as hover boards. In fact, the danger is so great that the US Department of Transportation now forbids e-cigarettes from being packed in checked luggage to protect airline passengers from possible in-flight fires.
At the same time, New York Senator Chuck Schumer has called them a “ticking time bomb” and suggested that the Food and Drug Administration consider recalling them, while United States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said he considers electronic cigarettes to be “a public health threat to youth,” and sees the need for more federal regulations and enforcement of minimum age sale laws (such as those regarding tobacco products).
In fact, Murthy issued a statement last week is which he noted that 1 in every 6 teenagers has admitted to using them in the past month, making them the “most commonly used tobacco products used in the United States, surpassing conventional tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and hookahs.”
Official reports also note that the use of e-cigarettes has jumped more than 900% among high school students in just 4 years (2011-2015).
While the Surgeon General is worried that the addictiveness of the nicotine vapor can “damage the youthful” brains, there is also concern that secondhand vapor exhaled into the air by e-cigarette smoker might expose others to potentially harmful chemicals including solvents, toxicants, and flavorings added to make the taste more appealing. However, he did admit to “gaps in scientific evidence” when it comes to the dangers of e-cigarettes.