The Unique Hazards of Vaping: Do the Risks Outweigh the Benefits?

In recent years, “vaping” has become all the rage. Sleeker and smaller than cigarettes, e-cigarettes have emerged as a more fashionable—and allegedly less harmful—way to satisfy a nicotine craving.

E-cigarettes, often simply called vape pens, are electronic devices that contain a mix of nicotine, flavoring, and other chemicals. When someone inhales on the device, the liquid turns into a vapor. This is why smoking an e-cigarette is often called vaping.

The Pros of Vaping

Vaping has picked up in recent years, particularly among people who want to quit smoking. For those looking to quit cigarettes, it is a helpful middle step in the process, as they help them ease away from smoking. Vaping is also popular among young people, who are enticed by the liquid flavors. Plus, the small size of the vape pens allows kids to discreetly smoke at school or around their house.

It’s true that e-cigarettes do have a lower dose of nicotine than traditional cigarettes. This makes them less likely to lead to a lifelong addiction. Since they don’t burn, they are also less likely to cause lung damage and are less harmful to people around the smoker.

The Unique Risks of E-Cigarettes

Overall, e-cigarettes are assumed to be about 80% less dangerous than regular cigarettes . . . at least when it comes to issues like lung cancer and secondhand smoke. When it comes to fires and burn injuries, though, vaping might actually present a bigger risk than traditional cigarette smoking.

The main reason for these unique dangers of e-cigarettes is lithium batteries. Though they are often used in everything from pacemakers to smartphones, lithium batteries are prone to overheating and explosion. With vape pens, explosions often occur when the e- cigarette is charging.. If a charging vape pen is left unattended, an explosion could cause sparks to leap onto nearby clothing, window blinds, or other materials. This could quickly cause a rapidly spreading fire.

Fire and Explosion Hazards

In other instances, overheating and explosions have occurred when the e-cigarette was not charging. There have been reports of vape pens exploding in people’s backpacks and pockets or even in their hands. When this happens, it can cause severe burns and other injuries to the person holding the device, including serious facial damage. Of the 195 vape pen explosions that occurred between 2009 and 2016, 29% of people ended up with serious injuries, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Just this week in St. Petersburg, an alleged vape pen incident even lead to a fatality. Firefighters came to a home after reports of a small fire and found the dead victim, a 38 year old man, with multiple facial injuries. A vape pen explosion is the suspected cause of this deadly accident.

While it’s the first recent fatality, it’s not the only time e-cigarettes have caused issues in Florida. In 2015, a man in Clermont suffered extreme leg burns after his vape pen exploded in his pocket. Another man in Destin suffered damage to his face, hands, and mouth when his vape pen exploded during use. Earlier this year, a Pinellas County bus made an emergency stop when a passenger’s vape pen began to emit smoke.

Aside from explosion and fire risks, other vape pen hazard is the liquid inside the device. If the fluid is accidentally consumed, it can cause nausea, vomiting, and eye irritation. It may also cause deadly poisoning in young children or infants. The first confirmed death from accidental ingestion occurred in 2014, when an 18-month-old died after coming into contact with e-liquid in his home.

Do the Risks Outweigh the Benefits?

These dangers show that while vape pens do have some benefits, particularly the lower dose of nicotine, they also present a unique set of risks.

So is it worth the risk? For people who have cut down on cigarettes, the benefits probably seem to outweigh the risks . . . but for people who have been injured or lost a loved one to a vape pen accident, the outlook on vaping is likely very different.

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The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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