Man Put In Medically Induced Coma After Smoking E-Cigarette


When people talk about the dangerous of e-cigarettes and vaping, they are usually talking about all that vapor – it’s pretty early on for these new devices, and no one is sure what the long-term effects on our lungs are. But a man in Florida has found out the hard way that e-cigs pose more than one possible danger: They can also blow up.

Evan Spahlinger, age 21, suffered injured following an accident with an e-cigarette and was placed in a medically-induced coma in Miami, where he remains.

The accident that caused these terrible injuries is a little unclear, but the e-cig used appeared to have malfunctioned. His sister reported that she was in bed when she heard an explosion and rushed into the other room to find her brother badly hurt. He did not appear to be breathing, and his face and neck were badly burned.

At the hospital, doctors quickly found that Spahlinger’s injuries were even worse than they appear. Internal injuries in his throat and lungs indicated that some of the explosion had entered into his mouth, and possibly that a secondary explosion had occurred in the components that were blasted down his throat. Doctors placed Spahlinger in the medically-induced coma shortly afterward to deal with the pain and help treat his injured throat and lungs.

The suspected culprit component in all this tragedy? The firefighters called to the scene reported that the most likely problem was the lithium-ion battery. You see, e-cigs need small lithium-ion batteries to heat cartridges and compartments enough to produce vapor. Ordinarily this is not a problem – after all, most of our smartphones use lithium-ion batteries, and you don’t hear about any phones exploding in people’s ears.

However, lithium-ion battery packs are not always stable, especially when it comes to unusual configurations. The most infamous thus far has been fires in the lithium-ion cores of electric cars, which have been known to occasionally burst into flames. However, with the rapid rise in popularity of e-cigs, a new wave of lithium-ion batteries is sweeping the market, and sometimes quality or safety have a hard time catching up.

Spahlinger’s sister has reported that the family hopes this incident will, at least help educate others about the potential dangers of e-cigs and vaping, far beyond the vapor itself. There is no word on what brand of e-cig that Spahlinger was using – which would have been handy for consumers – but all modern vaporizers tend to use lithium-ion batteries of some kind.

Prices for these e-cigs can vary wildly, ranging from $50 to several hundred dollars depending on the source and features. The market would not be helped by the spreading word of exploding cigarettes, so hopefully this will encourage brands to conduct more stringent product testing and create standards to provide safety guarantees for their products. It’s also easy to imagine this tragedy fueling even more e-cig laws and bans around the United States, where e-cig use is already being hotly contested by cities and states alike.