One of the fastest growing products of recent years is the vape pen, or e-cigarette. These devices were marketed as safer than traditional cigarettes with little evidence to support the claim. In truth, there is still a lot of research needed to determine if the chemicals in e-cigarette vapor packs are safe.
Unfortunately, there is growing evidence that the devices themselves are not always safe. Between 2015 and 2017, there were some 2,000 incidents of exploding vape pens in the United States, according to one study. These incidents led to burn injuries and other injuries related to flying shrapnel. In some cases, exploding vape pen injuries have resulted in death.
Perhaps the most recent example occurred in January of this year in Fort Worth, Texas. A young man in his mid-20s was vaping alone in his car when the vape pen exploded in his mouth. It reportedly sent metal shards into his face and neck and severed his carotid artery. He was hospitalized for two days before ultimately dying of complications from his injuries.
What about these devices is so dangerous? According to the study mentioned above, the problem seems to be with the lithium ion batteries used in vape pens. It is unclear why the batteries explode, or why they sometimes become hot enough to burst into flame. But the fact that they are being used in a product that is handheld and inserted into the mouth means that when the devices do malfunction, the injuries can be catastrophic or deadly.
The vape pen industry has grown rapidly, in part, because there is very little regulation of these products. But with so many injuries being reported, that may soon change. In the meantime, victims of these dangerous and faulty products deserve to have their cases heard in court. Manufacturers may soon be facing a rash of product liability and wrongful death lawsuits.