Daniel Pickett (24) was driving when the e-cig he was holding made a funny noise. According to his attorney, “He noticed a static-y sound. Literally, half a second later, it vented, or exploded. It just really tore the heck out of his hand and arm.”
Burn and trauma experts at Harborview Medical Center say Pickett is one of four young people since October treated for gruesome injuries caused by exploding e-cigarettes.
I’m not going to bother getting into the debate of whether or not e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes. I’m not going to bother with harm reduction discussion. There are plenty of places here on the site and around the web where we can hash that out. But I keep seeing stories like this pop up and I have to ask…
If vapers are going to continue to fight the “It’s safer than traditional cigarettes” battle, shouldn’t they make sure the non-tobacco part of their argument is in line first?
“I realized that this was something that was happening more frequently than we had previously recognized,” said Dr. Elisha Brownson from Harborview. “I just think that if people really knew this could explode in your face, they would consider twice putting a device like this to their mouth.”
Then again… maybe they wouldn’t.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDV), nearly 13 percent of U.S. adults have tried e-cigarettes at least once and nearly 4 percent are regular users. High-school student usage has nearly tripled between 2013 and 2014, to more than 13 percent of the teens.
Vaping enthusiasts contend e-cigarettes are safer than traditional products because they don’t burn. I’m guessing Daniel Pickett would suggest otherwise. Here are some other examples:
- In October, a 24-year-old man lost his eight front teeth, top and bottom, to the blast, plus oral surgery later to remove four more.
- In November, a 24-year-old woman suffered tears to her nose and upper lip when an e-cigarette explosion ripped out her nose ring.
- In February, a 25-year-old man working in an e-cigarette shop suffered second-degree burns to his face and right hand when a device blew up.
The science is still out on the long term safety of vaping. I’m not sure if anyone is doing any legitimate research into the delivery method themselves. Based on this, they certainly should be.
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Photo credit Nam Y. Huh/AP