The use of electronic cigarettes has been on the rise in their short time on the market. While they are touted as being a safer alernative to traditional cigarettes and as a cessation tool, there are still public health and safety concerns surrounding the products, especially given the lack of oversight from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency is currently planning on issuing regulations, and as that process moves forward a congresswoman is calling for the devices to be regulated the same as normal cigarettes.
According to Plymouth-Canton Patch, Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) is asking the FDA to place the same restrictions on e-cigarettes as regular cigarettes. The congresswoman was prompted by a veteran who was seriously injured by an exploding vapor pen. “Your natural thought is, is it safe to inhale? But second, is it safe to light up? Could it explode? And most people … didn’t think they had to worry about it exploding and I was actually stunned to hear of the number of incidents that have occurred across the country,” Dingell said to WWJ/CBS Detroit.
Jason Diekman was smoking a vapor pen when it exploded in his hand, burning his arm and part of his abdomen and sendind shrapnel into the wall. “I pushed it and it just exploded – a big boom louder than a shotgun going off,” said Diekman to WJBK-TV. Diekman, who survived tours of duty in Afghanistan ad Iraq, was hospitalized. He suffers from a scorched arm and may have permanent nerve damage. “… None of these boxes have warnings saying they can explode in your hand or anything,” said Diekman to WJBK. “That’s what you get – left with a bunch of bills and you know, ‘Sorry about your luck.’ “
Dingell sent a letter to the FDA’s acting commissioner, Stephen Ostroff, criticizing the lack of oversight. ““Consumers have a right to know the products they buy are safe and not ticking time bombs that could explode dangerously at any point. We are exploring both regulatory and legislative solutions to this problem to ensure Sgt. Diekman and other consumers have the protections they deserve.”