First hitting the consumer market in 2007 – touted as a safe smoking-cessation tool – electronic cigarettes (other common nicknames e-cigarettes, e-cigs, electronic nicotine delivery systems, vaporizer cigarettes, vape pens) have enjoyed widespread success in recent years, as the number and selection of products expand. However, despite its lure and popularity as an aid to kick cigarette smoking, little is known about its health effects. Very recent studies link usage to some serious health effects, including nicotine addiction, lung and heart disease, and seizures. What’s more, e-cigarettes devices can potentially catch fire, explode and seriously injure the user in the face, hands, or eyes.
According to the CDC, e-cigarette use, a practice known as vaping, is popular among high school youth and young adults. In 2018, 1 in 5 high school students vaped monthly, according to the findings of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General.
What are e-cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes are a hand-held, battery-operated delivery system in which a user inhales an aerosol that emits doses of various levels of nicotine (plus propylene glycol and glycerin, and various flavoring chemicals) in the form of vapor. The device mimics the look and feel of smoking … without the tobacco.
E-cigarettes come in many different shapes and configurations. They can look like regular cigarettes, pipes and cigars, or resemble writing pens, USB flash drives, and other everyday items. Cell phone cases with built-in e-cigarettes are also available.
According to NIH, there are 460 different e-brands in the marketplace and over 7,700 flavors.
How do they work?
E-cigarettes have the following basic components:
(1) a mouthpiece that the user puffs on (i.e., vaping) to inhale;
(2) the replaceable or refillable cartridge which stores the liquid – also called the juice – that contains nicotine, various other types of flavoring chemicals, and other chemicals;
(3) a heating element – or atomizer – which vaporizes the liquid (juice) in the cartridge to make vapor, which is inhaled;
(4) the power source (i.e., battery).
Most manufactured devices have built-in on/off switches to prevent overheating; some have locking features to prevent the switch from being activated in a pocket or purse. Other devices have an LED light on the end to simulate the glow of a burning cigarette.
In many e-cigarettes, puffing by the user activates the heating element, which vaporizes the liquid solution in the cartridge, and the users inhale the resulting vapor into their lungs. The user exhales the aerosol into the environment.
Bystanders can also breathe in this aerosol when the user exhales into the air.
What are the health risks in vaping (e-cigarettes)?
E-cigarettes come with health risks. Though fairly new, there is little known about the long-term safety data on its impact on users. However, what is known is that, over time, e-cigarettes have been linked to a number of harmful health risks, namely lung and heart problems, cancer, and possibly seizures.
Nicotine exposure: Most e-cigarettes contain high levels of nicotine, a highly addictive substance, even as much nicotine as a pack of regular cigarettes, per the FDA. Nicotine-rich e-cigs may impair brain development in young consumers who are smoking into their mid-20’s, leading to attention deficient disorder and poor impulse control. It is toxic to fetuses. According to Medical News Today, vaping and liquid nicotine can cause nicotine poisoning; one accidental swallow of e-cigarette liquid nicotine by an infant or toddler can potentially result in death.
Seizures: A known side-effect of nicotine poisoning and swallowing nicotine liquids are convulsions or seizures. In April 2019, regulators at the FDA said that some individuals, mainly teens and young adults, have experienced seizures or convulsions after vaping liquid nicotine. Seizures were reported by individuals who were first-time vapers as well as those who were regular users. FDA health officials also stressed, though, that it is not certain vaping can trigger the seizures.
Questionable substances: According to the CDC, the substances in the aerosol – nicotine, lead, and other organic chemicals – that the user breathes and exhales are harmful, some of which are cancer-causing. For example, one of the more popular flavoring chemicals is diacetyl which is linked to a rare lung disease – bronchiolitis oblitgerans (or commonly known as Popcorn lung) – that causes permanent damage to lung tissue, making it harder over time to breathe.
Heart disease: Stanford University medical researchers found that popular e-cig flavorings can potentially lead to cardiovascular disease. A UCSF study of nearly 70,000 people reported that daily e-cigarette use nearly doubled the odds of a heart attack. At a study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual scientific session, March 2019, e-cigarette smokers had a 56% higher risk of having a heart attack, 30% higher risk of suffering a stroke, and 10% higher risk to contract heart disease than people who didn’t smoke.
What are some of the injuries?
According to the CDC, defective e-cigarette batteries (typically lithium-ion, the same ones in your cell phone and laptop) are the culprit, causing fires and explosions, some of which have resulted in serious injuries. According to a 2016 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, e-cigarette explosion injuries included flame burns, chemical burns, and blast injuries, requiring wound care and skin grafting. Injuries to the face, hand, or thigh need extensive cosmetic work. Blast injuries have led to tooth loss, traumatic tattooing, and extensive loss of soft tissue.
What can you do If you have suffered health issues from e-cigarettes?
E-cigarette companies have a responsibility – as do other manufacturers and sellers of consumer products – to market products that are safe for the general public. If there is a failure or the product is poorly designed or dangerous, injuries may unfortunately occur. In such cases, the company may be held accountable and the injured person may recover damages.
If you have been an e-cigarette user experiencing seizures involving hospitalization or brain hemorrhagic stroke caused by e-cigarettes, or diagnosed with Popcorn disease, your best first step is to consult with an attorney experienced in product liability cases. Product liability cases involve complex legal rules and scientific data – too specialized to handle on your own. You can be certain that the e-cigarette company has a large legal division who vigorously protects the company from legal exposure.
Advocate Law Group has decades of experience representing individuals who have been harmed by products in the marketplace. At no cost to you, we will provide a case assessment to help you evaluate the merits of your injury claim. Call today or fill out the form on this page. There are no attorneys’ fees if you do not win the case.