Much is made over the safety of e-cigarette batteries by anti-vapers, but the statistics clearly show it’s an incredibly slight risk
It seems like every week there is a video reshared online of a vaporizer exploding. It’s not hard to understand why these videos get some much traffic; no one wants something that’s in their mouth to blow up! But individuals against vaping go as far as to suggest that this a common problem with vape batteries, and not merely a terrible outlier. After all, it’s not just batteries in vaporizers that sometimes fail. Modern cells are made to be very safe, but nothing is perfect. So it’s important to understand details about the specific situations in which batteries failed catastrophically. The United States Fire Administration started doing a large scale report a few years ago, looking at exactly this.
The original report entitled Electronic Cigarette Fires and Explosions in the United States was published in 2014. Since then, the numbers have been updated with data as recent as December 31, 2016. The study was commissioned in response to the growing popularity of e-cigarettes and the concern of the public over their safety. To gather information they used a combination of media reports and internet postings. The report authors noted that minor cases could often go unreported, making them extremely difficult to cover. They stringently checked to ensure there was no redundancy of reports.
In the range studied, between January 2009 and December 2016, only 195 incidents of a vape battery exploding were reported. Of these, none were deadly, and about a third caused severe harm. They concluded that the far and away most significant risk factor for these explosions were either buying from non-reputable dealers or failure to follow proper battery safety.
They did make clear that this type of incident could not be eliminated entirely even by 100% compliance to recommended precautions. Unfortunately, this is true for most any piece of modern technology. Freak accidents with e-cigarettes happen but at no greater of a rate than most other “harmless” devices. A suggested path to limiting the occurrence further is to move away from using lithium-ion batteries in vaporizers. But for now, they’re still the best option we have.
The statistics are clear. With an estimated 9 million vapers in the United States alone (21 million around the world), only .00216% of vapers have ever experienced an explosion. In spite of this, some politicians continue to call into question their safety. Around the time of the last update to the USFA report, newly appointed Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) held a press conference in which he called e-cigarettes “ticking time bombs.” The Senator used this popular concern as a distraction from a press conference primarily aimed at making a case for extensive vaping regulations.
However, not all legislators are against e-cigarettes. While it is true that most of the pro-vaping politicians are made up of conservatives, even some Democrats have stood up for vaping rights. Most recently the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, vetoed a pair of bills that would have made it illegal to vape at all state parks and beaches. The proposals were supposedly aimed at lowering secondhand smoke and litter in public places, but vaping doesn’t produce harmful smoke, and most types don’t produce any trash. The Democrat Governor said that “there must be some limit to the coercive power of government.”
No matter what the politics of the situation may be, what’s important is following the proper safety precautions. Just like the USFA report found, the best way to protect yourself is to only buy from well-trusted brands, as well as understanding battery safety. It’s incredibly unlikely that you’ll ever experience a catastrophic failure even if you don’t. But why would you ever want to risk it when it’s so easy just to follow the proper precautions.
Have you or anyone you’ve known ever experienced any battery failure? Do you think batteries in vaporizers are more dangerous than similar batteries in other devices? What do you think it would take for more politicians to get on board with their safety? Let us know in the comments.