John Seven: We overlook real risks — like exploding e-cigarettes
NORTH ADAMS — Do exploding cigars mean anything to the younger generation, or does that just ring bells for old guys like me?
When I was a kid, you never really saw exploding cigars; they only really existed in tiny ads in comic books, alongside fake vomit and that joke soap that made your hands turn black.
What hilarity an exploding cigar must have offered! I never knew firsthand, though, because there were roadblocks. For one, what would a kid be doing with a cigar? And who would let a kid light a cigar anyhow? If you felt like a cigar and a kid said to take one of his, would you want that cigar?
The funny thing is — well, not funny ha ha — that exploding cigars have made a comeback in the form of exploding e-cigarettes. Have you not heard about this? Neither had I until the other day. Strangely, it seems like none of the usual hysteria suspects in the media are making a big deal out of this, just mostly isolated regional reporting.
Think I'm kidding? I would have thought so too at one point, until within a matter of minutes last week I saw two news items on the subject. One was an incident in Canada involving a 16-year-old and resulting in face burns and broken teeth. The other was in Germany, resulting in the same.
One quick search and I found a yet another recent incident, this one in New Hampshire, but this time, it was just his e-cigarette battery that was in his pocket. He was not even vaping at the time. It just exploded and he now needs multiple skin grafts.
Look beyond the first and my Google search became a seemingly endless list of e-cigarette explosions. A guy in Oklahoma needed stitches from an explosion.
A guy in Arkansas bought one, put it in his mouth and it exploded immediately, resulting in burns, shattered teeth and severed lips.
A guy in Michigan was changing his kid's diaper when the e-cigarette exploded in his pocket and burnt his legs, putting his baby at risk.
An e-cigarette explosion put one guy in Florida into a coma and fractured the vertebrae of another guy in Tennessee. A guy in Colorado fractured his face and broke his neck.
There were explosions in Los Angeles and Newport Beach in California, and there have been three lawsuits filed in that state.
In Indiana, a truck driver crashed when one exploded in his mouth, endangering other drivers.
There were so many, I had to give up, but two more articles caught my attention — a report about Virginia hospitals seeing an increase in these cases and a Mother Jones article that highlight even more cases than I found on my own, including some in England.
The culprit seems to be ion batteries, often linked to incompatible chargers. This doesn't seem to be an issue that is very well known by most vapers.
I'm amazed by the things that create public panics in contrast with those that don't catch on. It's easy to find someone freaked out about vaccines or electronic sensitivity or sickness from windmills. Plenty of folks are wary of the dangers of shark attacks and terrorist activities on American shores, even though statistically there's not much of either.
But e-cigarettes? Not hardly. Most the debate about them focus on whether they are as bad or addictive than tobacco cigarettes.
That's the wrong concern! You should worry about whether or not e-cigarettes will blow you to kingdom come. Careful out there. If the sharks, terrorists or vaccines don't get you, e-cigarettes might.
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