Vape Pens, Explosion Risks, and Product Liability

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 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 c-cigarette is called vaping.

Vaping vs. Smoking

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 as they help them ease away from smoking. Vaping is also popular among young people since 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.

Overall, e-cigarettes are about 80% less dangerous than regular cigarettes. When it comes to fires and burn injuries, though, vaping might actually present a bigger risk than traditional cigarette smoking.

E-Cigarette and Vaping Injuries

The main reason for these unique dangers of e-cigarettes is lithium batteries. Though they are used in everything from pacemakers to smartphones, lithium batteries can overheat and explode. When this happens, e-cigarettes can lead to a variety of injuries, from minor burns to serious facial trauma.

The most recent example of a vape pen fatality happened in January in Texas. A young man was using a vape pen when it exploded. Pieces of it became lodged in his throat, leading to a tear in his carotid artery. He suffered a massive stroke and died after being placed in a medically-induced coma.

Along with problems with lithium batteries, the liquid inside vape pens can also be a health hazard. If the fluid is accidentally consumed, it causes 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.

Product Liability Lawsuits for Defective Vape Pens

When someone is injured or even killed by an e-cigarette, determining liability is difficult. Like with any other product liability case, liability often depends on how the product was being used. For example, if a vape pen randomly explodes, it would be easier to argue that a defect or safety issue led to the resulting injuries. On the other hand, if someone ignored safety warnings and used the vape pen in an improper way, the  manufacturer might not be liable, since it was the user’s action that caused the injury. Similarly, if a child became ill after drinking e-liquid that has been left on the kitchen counter, their guardian’s improper storage, not the manufacturer, would likely take most of the blame.

These dangers and liability issues show that while vape pens do have some benefits, 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.


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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