Battery explosion injures Polish vaper

A Polish man received serious injuries earlier this week in an explosion he says was caused by his e-cigarette. Katowice man Damian Gola, 41, says he was walking with his wife and daughter when his vape device suddenly burst into flames in his pocket.

Following the accident Gola was rushed to hospital and treated for third-degree burns to his thigh and genitals; the damage was severe enough to need skin grafts. Now he’s warning about the dangers of exploding e-cigs: “Various manufacturers are selling them with either built-in batteries or with a battery pack like I had! Some have even have up to three batteries.”

However, while Gola claims it was his device that exploded, photographs show only an 18650 battery that shows the characteristic signs of having gone into thermal runaway and then been stamped on to put it out. If it had been fitted to a device it wouldn’t have been flattened, so it seems almost certain that Gola was actually carrying a loose battery in his pocket. This is known to be unsafe with any battery, and has nothing to do with the safety of either any design of e-cigarette or with vaping in general.

Canadian doctor tries to link vaping and cigarettes

A doctor from British Columbia has been in the media this week, after making a series of lurid claims comparing current trends in vaping and previous ones with cigarettes. According to Dr Chris Carlsten, director of the lung disease clinic at the University of British Columbia, there are “many similarities” between the growth in popularity of cigarettes decades ago and the rise of vaping now.

Carlsten went on to make a number of factually inaccurate claims, such as that a device like JUUL “contains 15 to 20 times as much nicotine as a cigarette.” This suggests a basic failure to understand what vapour products are – he seems to think there’s some kind of equivalence between one e-cig and one cigarette. Carlsten also believes that nicotine on its own is addictive, and thinks there will be an epidemic of vaping-related health problems in the future because “the product is ahead of the science” and there’s a lack of long-term data. While there’s plenty of data, it seems Carlsten hasn’t made any effort to find it.

Altria scraps e-cig brands

Tobacco company Altria announced this week that it’s halting production and distribution of its MarkTen and Green Smoke vapour products. According to the company they took this decision based on expected performance of the products – and the FDA’s interference in their ability to improve them.

Altria’s existing e-cigarette ranges need updates to stay competitive, but under the FDA’s increasingly burdensome regulations it’s becoming difficult for companies to do that. Instead, Altria plans to focus on sister company PMI’s iQOS heat not burn product, and is also considering buying a stake in JUUL Labs.

BAT blasts public health

A senior British American Tobacco executive has urged the public health industry to start taking a consistent, science-based position on reduced harm products. According to James Murphy, the company’s head of Reduced Risk Substantiation, BAT believe reduced risk products will make up 30% of their business by 2030 and 50% by the middle of the century, which is an obvious gain for public health. However, public health activists are still taking a variety of contradictory, and often hostile, positions on the technology. Murphy points out that there’s now a huge body of scientific evidence to show that vaping is safer than smoking; opponents of harm reduction should follow that evidence, so they can give better information to policy makers.

California moves towards new advertising ban

A new anti-vaping bill was introduced to the California Assembly on Wednesday, threatening more woes for the state’s beleaguered retailers. The bill, put forward by Republican assembly member Jordan Cunningham of San Luis Obispo, would ban vapour businesses from advertising their products with cartoons, packaging that resembles candy, or any mention of the word “candy”.

While few vapers or advocates are likely to have much objection to this bill on its own merits, it’s worrying that California continues to attack vaping with such determination. It’s even more worrying that the move comes from a Republican; up to now the GOP have supported vaping fairly reliably, while most attempts at bans have come from Democrats.

Unfortunately the industry has to take some of the blame for Cunningham’s bill. Too many companies still use irresponsible advertising which, although it isn’t aimed at children, can easily be portrayed that way.

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