Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says the federal agencies need to investigate why E-cigarettes, many of which are made in China, are exploding and severely injuring consumers. Schumer is calling on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate why these injuries keep happening.
E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat up liquid nicotine and turn it into vapor that can be inhaled. More than 2.5 million Americans use them and the trend is growing. But with the increase in use has come an increasing number of injuries.
Since 2009, there have been at least 92 incidents of exploding e-cigarettes, according to the FDA. But health professionals say the number is much higher because many victims don’t report the incidents.
“We know that this is a big problem at burn centers across the United States,” said Clare Meernik, MPH, research specialist in the UNC Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program and lead author of a recent editorial on this topic for The British Medical Journal. “We think these explosions are happening to a greater extent than the current medical literature suggests.”
In the first six months of 2016, 10 people were admitted for treatment at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center for injuries from E-cigarettes almost all of whom required surgery. Some of them had burns and facial fractures, one of them, whose device exploded in his face as he puffed on it, lost an eye, according to the research.
“With any other product, serious action would have been taken—and e-cigarettes should be no exception. Despite the explosions, no recalls have been issued. It’s radio silence from both the industry and the feds, so that’s why I’m sounding the alarm. The CPSC and FDA should investigate and determine which e-cigarette batteries and devices are the most volatile, and require a recall to make sure these explosions stop,” Schumer said. The CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of consumer products and the FDA has regulatory authority over these devices. Both agencies should take quick action as E-cigarettes are like “ticking timebombs”, he said.
Dozens of lawsuits have been filed for injuries sustained when these devices explode. “I get calls from people across the country who have endured severe burns, skin grafts, fractures, tooth loss, and endured lengthy hospitalizations after their battery or e-cigarette exploded without warning. Almost all of them were completely unaware that e-cigarettes and the lithium batteries commonly used to power the devices present a massive risk of explosion and can cause terrible injuries,” said Lindsay Lien Rinholen. “We need an appropriate means of reporting these explosion injuries and legislation that holds e-cigarette manufacturers accountable—not only for nicotine content—but for the hazards posed to consumers by their largely-unregulated electronic devices.”
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