Vaping is a great alternative to using tobacco, but many people are concerned about its safety. Fear not. Vaping is very safe when done properly. And if you exercise the proper care of your device, batteries and other accessories, then you have nothing to worry about.
In my experience, when someone hears that you are planning to start vaping, they try to discourage you by saying things like “vaping is just as bad as smoking” or “you’ll get popcorn lung.” Suffice to say, they’re simply reiterating what they’ve read in the media and take it as fact without any real proof that these statements are the least bit true. The problem with many of these reporting agencies (news, media, etc) is that they report the story, but fail to provide readers with the evidence to back up the claims touted in the headlines.
If you Google “exploding vape pens” there are a handful of articles describing incidents that happened. They should correct these to say “exploding batteries” because the device itself, without the battery, cannot explode. But if you take the time to read the stories all the way through, it is usually clear as to what caused these incidents: human error. Not the vape pen. In fact, most of them are not vape pens at all. They are mechanical mods, only to be used by advanced vapers with an extensive knowledge of electricity and ohm’s law.
Most of the time, what usually causes this type of accident are batteries put in the device wrong, over-charged batteries, or atomizers that are not meant to be used with certain devices such as those with a hybrid top cap. In this case, the incident was not caused by the device, it was caused by the person using it.
One interesting headline (with video) is about a 19-year-old man that, as the headline reads, had an e-cigarette explode in his pocket. Again, as you read through the story what caused the explosion was not the e-cigarette at all but the battery he put in his pocket with his change that exploded. He states that he took the battery out of the device and put it in his pocket. It exploded when the exposed metal top on the battery came in contact with the metal coins in his pocket causing it to ignite.
For this reason, you should never carry loose batteries in your pocket or purse. Get a plastic battery case for $1 and that will never happen to you. Any battery has the potential to explode given the right circumstances, not just vaping batteries.
But the headlines quickly gloss over the real cause of the incident and blame e-cigarettes and vaping. It is hard to undo the harm caused by headlines like that to the vaping community. The media uses strong emotional triggers to capture the reader’s attention because if no one reads their stories and reports, then the site doesn’t make any money. To put your mind at ease about the safety of vaping and vapor products, here are some safety tips:
- Buy high-quality batteries from vape shops:
- Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and LG are some of the best around.
- Always carry spare batteries in a battery case.
- Never carry loose batteries in your pocket because they can explode.
- Never leave batteries to charge overnight. Most batteries will be fully charged in just a few hours but over-charging can damage batteries and damaged batteries are dangerous. Keep the charger where you can see it and as soon as the charging cycle is complete, remove the batteries.
- If you need to put your device in a pocket or purse, turn it off first.
- Nearly all vapor devices have an on/off button and 5 clicks turns it off. A device that is turned off poses no threat. The battery cannot engage and there is no danger of anything happening.
- Know your hardware.
- If you buy a vaping device learn all you can about it beforehand. It is always recommended that you research devices carefully and know what type of batteries it uses and what type of atomizers can be used with it. Never buy something you don’t know how to use. Ask questions, read reviews, watch video reviews. Educate yourself on the type of equipment you plan to use and know all you can before pulling out your wallet or credit card.
- Mechanical mods are for advanced users and should never be used by someone who does have a basic understanding of electrical circuits.
- A mechanical mod, as the name infers, is simply an electronic device powered by a battery that uses the simple principles of turning on a flashlight. It has a spring that connects to the bottom of the battery and the top connects to the pin on the base of the atomizer and completes the circuit.
- Mechanical mods have no built-in protections, no circuit boards or chips to shut it down if something goes wrong. Regulated mods, on the other hand, do have circuit boards and automatic shut-off switches that protect the user from accidents. If the device detects a too low-resistance it simply won’t fire. Likewise, if there’s a short somewhere, it won’t fire. It will give you indications that something is not right and it won’t turn on until the problem is corrected.
- True vape pens (small battery-powered devices that resemble ballpoint pens) have internal batteries that charge via a USB cable and can be charged using the USB port on your laptop, are not known to explode.
- They can be over-charged which may damage the device and cause them to vent. Again, you just need to watch your devices when charging. These small devices have a plug on the charger that connects to the device while charging that shows a steady red light. When fully charged that light turns green.
- E-liquid bottles containing nicotine should be kept in a safe place away from children. Nicotine in e-liquid, when used in a tank or cartomizer, is used in small amounts and poses no harm in itself. However, in large quantities, it can be toxic to small children. Keep it up and out of reach.
What about the safety of vaping in general?
Public Health England published a report that says “vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits.”
Their report says that they believe e-cigarettes to be 95% safer than smoking and there is evidence that the smoking rates of adults and teens in the UK are going down. Another idea about vaping is that it’s a gateway to smoking for young people shot down.
A statement issued by Health Scotland reports “There is now agreement based on the current evidence that vaping e-cigarettes is definitely less harmful than smoking tobacco. Although most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is addictive, vaping carries less risk than smoking tobacco. Thus, it would be a good thing if smokers used them Instead of tobacco.”
An article posted in Newsweek says that according to researcher David Levy from Georgetown Comprehensive Cancer Center, switching from smoking to vaping could add years to your life.
In a recent statement, Levy said the findings support the idea that “a policy strategy that encourages replacing cigarette smoking with vaping to yield substantial life year gains.”
Countries like Canada, Scotland, New Zealand, Scandinavia, and the UK have all done their own medical studies and come to the conclusion that electronic cigarettes are 95% safer than smoking. Many of them are including e-cigarettes as smoking cessation devices due to the declining smoking rates. Vaping is about harm-reduction and having access to alternatives to tobacco cigarettes.
Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, a cardiologist at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Greece, has performed his own studies from a scientific viewpoint that is clearing up a lot of the misconceptions about vaping being harmful. He discovered that vapor from an electronic cigarette does not affect heart function in any way.
Vaping also does not cause a rise in blood pressure, and while e-liquid may contain some of the same chemicals in cigarettes it has a lot fewer of them and no risk of second-hand vapor. Dr. Farsalinos has replicated some of the same studies performed by other physicians and medical experts and says that many of their findings are inaccurate. You can read more about him on his website or on Facebook or Twitter.
The FDA has mandated that the sale of vapor products are restricted to adults over the age of 18, and nicotine e-liquids are labeled appropriately. As vapers, we agree that these products should only be used by adults and support this ruling. The restrictions from the FDA ban vaping and smoking in enclosed public places such as bars, restaurants and on school property, and 30 feet from the entrance to federal buildings.
Read Next: All our guides to Vaping.