Despite being advertised as a safe alternative to smoking, electronic cigarettes may be dangerous to your health. Recent tests performed by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have determined that some e-cigarettes contain carcinogens and other harmful ingredients including diacetyl. Additionally, the products have been linked to hundreds of reports of explosions and severe burn injuries.
Free Confidential Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been injured by an e cigarette, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and our lawyers can help.
How Do Electronic Cigarettes Work?
Electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes, ecigs or vapes) are battery powered devices that deliver nicotine and other substances in the form of a vapor, which is inhaled by the user. The devices contain a rechargeable heating element, cartridge and atomizer.
What’s the Problem?
Each refillable e-cigarette cartridge contains a liquid solution made of different quantities of nicotine, chemicals and other substances. Since these solutions come in flavors ranging from cotton candy to bubble-gum, they may be appealing to younger consumers. As a result, electronic cigarettes pose a danger to children’s safety, as the devices are not required to be childproof. The sweet odor produced by ecigs has lured children to drink the liquid nicotine and become poisoned. Additionally, inhalation, direct skin and/or eye exposure can cause acute nicotine toxicity.
Poison Control Centers Report Spike in E-Cig Toxicity Cases
Accidental exposure and ingestion of electronic cigarette cartridges have resulted in a significant increase in reports of toxicity at poison control centers across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between September 2010 and February 2014, poison control centers reported more than 2,400 e-cigarette exposure calls. Of these:
- 69% involved ingestion
- 17% involve inhalation
- 8.5% involved eye exposure
- 5.9% involved skin exposure
More than half of these incidents involved children who were exposed to toxic levels of nicotine, and 42% involved adults over the age of 20. The report also indicated that the number of electronic cigarette poisoning cases has jumped from just 1 call per month in 2010 to nearly 200 calls per month in 2014.
Side Effects of Electronic Cigarettes
- Nicotine poisoning/toxicity
- Accidental inhalation
- Skin/eye exposure
- Congestive heart failure (CHF)
Due to numerous safety concerns, FDA officials tested a small sample of cartridges from 2 leading brands of electronic cigarettes, Smoking Everywhere and Njoy.
The tests determined that:
- Diethylene glycol, a toxic ingredient contained in antifreeze, was found in 1 cartridge at approximately 1%.
- Tobacco-specific nitrosamines, which are harmful to humans, were found in half the samples.
- The tobacco-specific impurities anabasine, myosmine, and β-nicotyrine were detected in most samples.
- The ecig cartridges that were labeled as containing no nicotine were found to have low levels of nicotine in all cartridges tested except one.
- Three different e-cigarette cartridges with identical labels were tested, and each cartridge produced a different amount of nicotine with each puff. Nicotine levels ranged from 26.8 to 43.2 mcg nicotine/100 mL puff.
- One high-nicotine cartridge delivered twice as much nicotine when the vapor from that device was inhaled than was delivered by a sample of a nicotine inhalation product (used as a control) that was approved by FDA for use as an anti-smoking device.
At a news conference discussing these findings, Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Tobacco Consortium, expressed concerns that electronic cigarettes – particularly those that come in flavors – may appeal to children. He said e-cigarettes could turn kids into nicotine addicts and cigarette smokers later on in life.
In a statement addressing the FDA test results, the American Lung Association said that it shared similar concerns. The group urged the FDA “to act immediately to halt the sale and distribution of all e-cigarettes unless the products have been reviewed and approved for sale by the FDA.”
Since 2010, FDA has received at least 35 reports of seizure in e-cigarette users — both novice and tenured, young and not so much — that occurred either during use or shortly after the fact. The cases were fielded by poison control centers across the U.S., as well as the FDA’s adverse event reporting system.
“While 35 cases may not seem like much compared to the total number of people using e-cigarettes, we are nonetheless concerned by these reported cases,” FDA head Scott Gottlieb said in the press release. “We also recognize that not all of the cases may be reported.”
FDA was unable to conclude one way or another whether the smoking devices caused the seizures, since there was no clear pattern in the incidents that led to the patients’ strokes. Some of the victims were novices, while others were veteran vapers. Several of the patients had a prior history of seizures, complicated by marijuana and amphetamine use.
FDA also failed to specify any specific brand name vapes or vape juices implicated in the seizures, as this information wasn’t provided in all these cases (though it should be noted that some devices, in particular Juul, deliver higher doses of nicotine than most other e-cigs).
What is a Seizure?
Seizures are characterized by erratic bursts of electrical activity in the brain, somewhat like an electrical storm. The events can vary greatly in form and severity from patient to patient. Anything the brain does normally may also occur without warning during a seizure.
- Temporary confusion
- A staring spell
- Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
- Loss of consciousness or awareness
- Psychic symptoms such as fear, anxiety or deja vu
(Courtesy Mayo Clinic)
E-Cigarette Lawsuit Filed in Illinois
June 25, 2017 – An Illinois couple is suing two vape shops alleging that e-cigarette batteries purchased there caught fire and exploded in the husband’s pants, leaving him with third-degree burns.
According to the lawsuit, Plaintiff Scott Schroeck was checking on a load of lumber in his truck when he felt a burning sensation in his front pocket, according to the Chicago Tribune. He said he had put a spare lithium-ion battery in each pocket for his e-cigarette.
Schroeck’s wife, Denise, alleges that she lost her husband’s companionship after the incident. The complaint alleges the batteries were defective and that no warnings were provided on the risk of explosion.
Defendants in the case include Rockin Vape, Tobacco Zone and battery manufacturer LG. Plaintiffs are alleging damages of negligence and product liability. The complaint was filed earlier this week in Cook County circuit court.
Texas Man Dies From Vape Explosion
February 14, 2019 – A U.S. Navy veteran from Dallas, Texas, who claims he was severely burned when his electronic cigarette exploded in his pocket has filed a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, retailer and distributor.
According to the lawsuit, Plaintiff Matthew Bonestele’s LG Chem HG2 18650 battery exploded in his right pants pocket on April 21, 2016. The explosion caused third degree burns to his right leg and made a hole in his right thigh, according to KHOU.
Bonestele alleges that LG Chem America, Inc. defectively designed and manufactured the e-cigarette battery, which his complaint alleges did not have warnings regarding its potential dangers. The e-cigarette was distributed by Lightfire Group, LLC, and sold to Bonestele by Great Vapes, LLC. — both of which are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
This is not the first incident in which a U.S. veteran has been injured by exploding e-cigarette batteries. Tim Jensen, an Army veteran from Alabama, also had a vape battery explode in his right pocket last year. He suffered second and third degree burns to his hands and legs, and had to receive 60 staples and skin grafts.
Last month, the Navy banned e-cigarettes from its vessels after several reports of exploding vapes injuring sailors. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in 2016 prohibited airline passengers from carrying portable electronic smoking devices in checked baggage, and from using or charging the devices aboard aircraft.
New Study Questions E-Cigarette Effectiveness at Helping Smokers Quit
February 5, 2019 – Electronic cigarettes or “vapes” are nearly twice as effective at helping traditional cigarette smokers kick the habit, according to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The findings contradict a popular opinion among many that e-cigs are not reliable tools for smoking cessation.
The groundbreaking research marked the first time e-cigarettes have been tested against nicotine replacement products to determine their effectiveness as devices to help quit smoking, according to Peter Hajek, a psychologist at the Queen Mary University of London, who led the study.
The researchers found that 18% of e-cig users had quit smoking cigarettes after 1 year, compared with 9.9% of participants who used traditional nicotine replacement products. Both groups received additional support in order to kick smoking.
The scientific community has been generally reluctant to view electronic cigarettes as reliable smoking cessation products due to a lack of research, but “This is now likely to change,” Hajek said.
However, many are still not convinced, and there was even an editorial written in the same NEJM issue the study was published calling on the FDA to enforce an immediate ban on all electronic smoking devices and their “juices” over their potential addictive tendencies.
“We fear that the creation of a generation of nicotine-addicted teenagers will lead to a resurgence in the use of combustible tobacco in the decades to come,” said lead author Jeffrey Drazen, editor in chief of NEJM.
E-Cig Flavoring Contains Popcorn Lung Chemical
December 8, 2015 – Ever since electronic cigarettes hit the market more than a decade ago, researchers have debated the potential side effects posed by the devices. This week, a study released by the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that 75% of flavored e-cigarettes and liquids contained diacetyl, a chemical that causes an incurable respiratory disease called popcorn lung. Click here to learn more.
E Cigarette Lawsuit Filed in Kansas
April 30, 2018 – A Kansas man who claims the spare battery to his electronic cigarette exploded inside his pocket and caused him severe burn injuries has filed a products liability lawsuit against the vape shop where he purchased the device. The explosion was a result of metal from some of the other items plaintiff had in his pocket interacting with the spare battery in a way that caused a short leading to a “thermal runway,” the complaint states.
Illinois Couple Alleges Loss of Consortium from Vape Explosion
June 29, 2017 – A married couple from a Plainfield, Illinois, have filed a lawsuit against 2 vape shops alleging that batteries for an e-cigarette purchased there exploded in the man’s pants, causing 3rd degree burn injuries. Plaintiff’s wife alleges that she lost her husband’s companionship after the incident.
Ex-Navy Seal Suffers Burns, Laceration in Vape Explosion
May 15, 2017 – A U.S. Navy veteran from Dallas, Texas, who claims he was severely burned when his e-cigarette exploded in his pocket has filed a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, retailer, and distributor of the device. Plaintiff Matthew Bonestele claims that his LG Chem HG2 18650 battery exploded in his right pants pocket, causing third degree burns to his right leg and puncturing his right thigh.
Navy Bans E-Cigarettes Over Exploding Battery Concerns
April 18, 2017 – Malfunctioning e-cigs have forced at least one aircraft to land, started fires on ships and left multiple sailors with severe burns, according to the Navy Times. Vape injuries have occurred when the devices were being used, charged or replaced, or when they came into contact with other metal objects.
The ban took effect on Friday and comes as the e-cigarette industry faces increasing scrutiny over the safety of its products. Last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) prohibited airline passengers from carrying vapes in checked baggage, and from using or charging the devices aboard aircraft.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products identified at least 137 reports of e-cigarette overheating, fires and explosions between 2009 and 2015. FDA received at least 20 reports of e-cigarette overheating, fires and explosions last year.
The e-cigarette ban prohibits uniformed personnel and civilians from using, possessing, storing and charging the devices. It will remain in effect until a risk analysis is complete.
The Navy reported at least 15 incidents from October 2015 to June 2016 where fires were started or personnel were injured from electronic cigarettes or portable vaporizers, according to the Naval Safety Center. It’s unclear whether the FDA figures include statistics from the Navy.
Eight of the incidents occurred aboard ships or aircraft, and in one incident an aircraft had to return to base because e-cigarette batteries were creating smoke in the cargo area.
In one case, a battery melted through the pocket of a sailor in a submarine and ignited after it hit the deck of the torpedo room.
In another case, a vape exploded while the user was attempting to remove its batteries, burning his hands and fingers. He was hospitalized for 2 days and spent 14 days on convalescent leave, according to the Naval Safety Center.
1 in 4 Children Exposed to Secondhand Smoke from E-Cigs, CDC Study Finds
April 3, 2017 – A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that nearly one-quarter of teens in the U.S. has been exposed to potentially dangerous secondhand vapors from electronic cigarettes over the past 30 days. Children who were exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke were also more likely to be exposed to secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes, CDC found.
Vapes a “Major Health Concern,” Surgeon General Says
January 16, 2017 – A new report from the U.S. Surgeon General is calling vape use a grave threat to children and young adults in the U.S., igniting a controversy over whether the practice is safer than traditional cigarette smoking. The report found that e-cigarette use among U.S. high school students was up more than 900% since 2011, and described in scientific terms how young people with developing brains are sensitive to nicotine.
FDA to Investigate Electronic Cigarette Explosions
January 4, 2017 – The FDA is planning to hold a 2-day public meeting in April to discuss the dangers of exploding batteries in electronic cigarettes and vapes. The Associated Press reported in December that the agency had identified at least 66 e-cigarette explosions between 2015 and early 2016.
American Youth Bombarded with E-Cigarette Ads, CDC Says
January 5, 2016 – About 18 million U.S. middle and high school students – 70% – are exposed to electronic cigarette advertising, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today. The ads are using the conventional tobacco marketing tactics of decades past with themes of independence, rebellion and sex appeal, says CDC Director Tom Frieden. Click here to learn more.
E-Cigarettes Could Damage Cells, Cause Cancer – Study Claims
December 29, 2015 – Adding to the growing health concerns over electronic cigarettes, a new study published in the journal Oral Oncology has warned that vapor emitted by the devices may cause cancer. The findings came after a lab team at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System tested 2 popular brands of e-cigarettes and found their negative impact on human cells. Click here to learn more.
Do I Have an Electronic Cigarette Lawsuit?
The Product Liability Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in E Cigarette Lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new ecig injury cases in all 50 states.
Free Confidential Case Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been injured by an e cigarette, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a class action suit and our lawyers can help.