The fresh warning comes after an increase in the number of smokers injured by exploding e-cigarettes at Morriston Hospital’s Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery in Swansea.
“Before this year we hadn’t seen any injuries like this,” says Morriston Hospital’s Dr Dai Nguyen, who works in the plastic surgery unit. “This reflects the rising popularity of these e-cigarettes.” Five people have been treated by plastic surgeons for serious burns at the hospital this year so far.
These battery operated cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine with flavorings and other chemicals to users in vapor instead of smoke. They are reportedly 95 per cent safer than smoking normal cigarettes according to Public Health England.
“I suspect a lot of A&E departments may also be dealing with these incidents and we’re just not aware of them. It’s not just us, this is something that is starting to be highlighted nationwide. I think we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.”
There have been a number of reports worldwide on exploding e-cigarettes. Sally Smith from Colorado explains the “frightening” moment her son’s e-cigarette exploded.
“No matter what I say to people about my son, people never think it could happen to them,” Sally says.
“He had full thickness burns on his left hand and soot was deeply embedded. It singed his lips and tongue. He had it in his hand and was just starting to bring it his mouth. We heard a loud explosion and he came in with full thickness burns on his left hand and soot deeply embedded,” she explains.
“Fortunately he hadn’t had it in his mouth, but it still singed his lips and tongue. We had to take him to hospital immediately. It was very frightening.”
Although Sally’s son made a full recovery, Dr Nguyen explains other people have had more severe experiences with e-cigarette explosions. “I am aware of other cases which have required surgery and skin grafts,” she says.
“There have also been reports of e-cigarettes exploding in people’s mouths which resulted in catastrophic injuries similar to those you would experience if you were shot in the face by a gun.”
Surgeons at Morriston Hospital are writing a paper calling for better regulation on e-cigarette imports and have reported their findings to trading standards officers.
IMAGE DOWNLOAD: Doctors are reporting a rise in e-cigarette injuries