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Watch out for Exploding E-Cigarettes

In an effort to quit smoking and avoid the health dangers of tobacco, many people across the country are turning to electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs. In most basic terms, e-cigs work by heating a fluid placed into a small chamber called and RDA (rebuildable dripping atomizer) or RBA (rebuildable atomizer). This chamber is attached on one end to a mouthpiece with an airflow regulator and on the other end to a casing, holding a battery – the e-cigarette. When fully assembled, the battery is connected to the RDA or RBA by a metal coil wire that extends out of the RDA/RBA housing. Electricity from the battery heats the coil, which in turn heats fluid-saturated cotton inside the RDA/RBA chamber, which produces vapor. The idea is for an e-cig user to inhale the vapor to achieve the sensation of smoking without the harmful effects of smoking tobacco. 

Healthy, right? Safe alternative to tobacco cigarettes, right? Well, increasingly, there is evidence nationwide that while smoking tobacco cigarettes is a long-term threat to one's health, using some e-cigarettes may subject the user to sudden catastrophic injury resulting from e-cig explosions and fires. All across America, from big city to small town, from highly educated professionals to blue collar workers, sudden and catastrophic e-cigarette explosions are happening with increased frequency.

E-cigs are not currently regulated by any federal agency and are sold by small local vape shops as well as national chains. There are many manufacturers of the components which, when fully assembled, form what is colloquially called an e-cigarette. There are also differing designs for the RDA/RBAs, the mode, or battery housing, and the manner through which the cotton and coils operate and are charged and replaced.

When the e-cig explosions have occurred, the user/witnesses report that the explosive power was substantial. Typical explosions have involved violent explosions with metal shrapnel and disengaged metal components flying like bullets in multiple directions – as well as the discharge of fire. Across the country, e-cig users have suffered severe and permanent injuries, most involving severe facial burns, facial bone fractures, loss of eyesight, and even a fractured cervical vertebrae (neck), resulting in risk of paralysis. Typical injuries also include serious burn injury, requiring hospitalization, skin grafting, and huge medical bills.

There may be no warning at all that your e-cig is about to explode. When it occurs, this violent explosion is likely to occur right in front of the user's face (after all, the point is to "smoke" like it was a cigarette). The mechanism of explosion seems to be from a suddenly overheated battery. The manner and mechanism by which the battery becomes overheated to the point of explosion is subject to differing argument. The purpose of this piece is to WARN of the sudden explosive nature of some e-cigs; to cause AWARENESS that there is a problem inherent in the exploding e-cigs.

These devices are not supposed to explode in the user's face. Claims for compensation against manufacturers and distributing of e-cigs are being prosecuted across the country.

© 2017 Varnum LLP


About this Author

Steven H. Weston, Varnum, Product Defect Attorney, Personal Injury Lawyer,

Steve Weston has 28 years of  experience representing people who suffer from serious injuries. He has significant experience helping victims and families affected by automobile and truck accidents, gas explosions, defective products, unsafe premises and many other causes of injury.

Steve has committed an extensive portion of his practice to the study and understanding of traumatic brain injury and the unique areas of law pertaining to the needs of survivors of traumatic brain injury; as well as advocating for the special needs of burn survivors...