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E-cigarette use is exploding, and so are e-cigarettes themselves

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There’s really no more room for debate about the fact that cigarettes are bad for your health. Because of the dangers, many Americans are switching to e-cigarettes, electronic devices that deliver nicotine and flavoring in water vapor instead of smoke.

“Vaping,” as it’s called, certainly seems better for your health than smoking cigarettes (although the scientific data to back up that assumption is sparse). But e-cigarettes can be dangerous in a different and unexpected way. There have been a number of cases in recent months in which the batteries inside e-cigarettes spontaneously explode, resulting in burns and other injuries to users.

The most recent incident to make news happened in Kentucky, and it was caught on film. Security video from a convenience store shows a customer standing near the checkout when one leg of his pants suddenly bursts into flames. The explosion seems to occur at about knee-level, and the man immediately rushes to remove his pants and douse the flames.

Thankfully, a store employee was able to quickly grab a fire extinguisher. Still, the man required treatment at the hospital for second-degree burns to his leg. Amazingly, this incident was minor compared to the injuries that have accompanied other e-cigarette explosions. In several past incidents, devices exploded while being used, meaning that they were being held to the person’s face. According to USA Today, “a Florida man suffered life-threatening burns on his face and neck” in one case.

Some trauma and burn specialists have said that typical injuries associated with e-cigarette explosions include burns and soft-tissue blast injuries that affect the teeth, hands and face.

Unfortunately, the practice of vaping has become incredibly popular in the United States. Because of the speed at which this industry has grown, these products remain largely unregulated and their health effects remain largely unstudied. As recent cases suggest, there are serious risks to consumer health and safety when products are rolled out too quickly and with little oversight.

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