5 Tips to safer E-cigarette use

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E-cigarettes were introduced to the market around 2007 touted as an alternative to real cigarettes and to aid people in quitting smoking. They have grown to become incredibly popular and with sales of them soaring in Canada year over year. The term e-cigarette is somewhat misleading.

  • They heat a liquid solution and deliver a non-measured dose of aerosol or vapour
  • They don’t contain tobacco, but most include nicotine
  • They pose direct health risks
  • Those that contain nicotine have NOT been approved for sale in Canada
  • According to www.tobaccoreort.ca 9% of all Canadians age 15 and older (approximately 2.5 million) reported having ever tried an e-cigarette; 2% had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days.
  • They can be refillable

Recently in Kitchener police, fire and ambulance responded to a call in which a man sustained non-life threatening injuries when his e-cigarettes malfunctioned and started a car fire. It is not clear whether Ontario is tracking these malfunctions. Many similar malfunctions are reported in the press although what it is that is exploding and the true rates of failure are unknown.

E-cigarettes are made of a tank, a heating element and a battery. The most likely failure point is the battery. According to American data about 80% of the explosions of the e-cigarettes happen when they are being charged, and it seems that using ‘off brand’ chargers can be one of the culprits. People also mistakenly over charge the cigarettes by plugging them into their computers or other USB ports. There is a mistaken belief that all USB ports are created equal and are interchangeable when in fact they are not. A smaller percentage of them exploded in peoples’ pockets or hands, or even when they are being smoked. This can result in serious burns to the face.

According to research done by FEMA in the US some models seem to be more likely to explode than others. Experts agree that any weakness in the battery wrapping of the cigarettes can pose a danger to the user. Batteries with tears, rips or other weaknesses should be replaced and discarded as the amount of acid is enough to cause significant injury. There has been one reported fatality in Scotland when a massive explosion was triggered by a charging e-cigarette. The charger was located adjacent to an oxygen machine.

Here are 5 tips to make use safer:

  1. Only use the charger the unit comes with.
  2. Don’t plug it into your computer or other charging devices even if the plug fits. You can easily overcharge the battery.
  3. Don’t buy counterfeit e-cigs. Stick with a brand made in the USA as they have higher manufacturing standards than China at the moment.
  4. Never leave your e-cigarette plugged into its charger but unattended.
  5. Look for models that let you remove the battery when charging. You can inspect it for damage and what little data there is shows they are safer than models that have ‘fixed’ batteries.