E-Cigarette Explodes and Kills a Man: Don’t Get Burned by This ‘Safe Alternative’

Let the buyer beware vaping — TV producer's death in Florida is the first in this country caused by a vape pen

by Kyle Becker | Updated 17 May 2018 at 12:20 PM

E-cigarettes have been marketed as a “safe alternative” to tobacco cigarettes.

Yet a Florida medical examiner confirmed Tuesday that an e-cigarette led to the death of former CNBC producer Tallmadge Wakeman D’Elia. His story provides yet another reason why buyers should beware “vaping.”

D’Elia, a 38-year-old man from St. Petersburg, Florida, died after his “vape pen” exploded and caused a “projectile wound” in his skull. An autopsy report obtained by WFTS confirmed that the e-cigarette penetrated his skull and brain.

A subsequent house fire caused by the exploding e-cigarette led to D’Elia’s receiving burns on 80 percent of his body, WMAZ reported.

FEMA, the government agency that tracks e-cigarette statistics, confirmed the death was the first in the U.S. caused by a vape pen.

In its official report on Electronic Cigarette Fires and Explosions, FEMA said, "The shape and construction of electronic cigarettes can make them [more likely than other products with lithium-ion batteries] to behave like 'flaming rockets' when a battery fails."

The exploding e-cigarette, manufactured by Smok-E Mountain Mech Works, was an unregulated type that lacked "safety features," according to the medical examiner contacted by WFTS.

Smok-E Mountain Mech Works contests that its e-cigarette product was the cause of the explosion.

A representative from the company told WFTS that its devices "do not explode." The company's explanation is that there must have been an issue with the atomizer or the battery. The company claims manufacturers have been "cloning their batteries, which makes them less safe."

The American Lung Association maintains that vaping nicotine is a serious health concern.

Apart from concerns about exploding e-cigarettes, there are other reasons vaping shouldn't be considered "safe." The American Lung Association maintains that vaping nicotine is a serious health concern.

"It is very obvious the e-cigarette companies ripped a page out of the playbook of Big Tobacco when it comes to marketing to kids," Erika Sward, vice president of advocacy for the American Lung Association, told LifeZette for a previous story. "These e-cigarettes represent challenges for kids facing addiction, and many kids move on to smoke cigarettes."

Kyle Becker is a content writer and producer with LifeZette. Follow him on Twitter

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