The new Senate minority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), is angling for a ban on e-cig devices. Schumer called the devices “ticking time bombs” on account of reports of them catching fire or exploding.
There are several kinds of e-cig devices. Consumers can go into a 7-Eleven and purchase a disposable e-cig; or for the more serious vapers, there are customized devices that allow varying battery sizes, tanks, and atomizers.
An e-cig is a fairly simple device. A heating element vaporizes the liquid solution (the “juice”) in the atomizing cartridge. Some have an on/off switch; others heat automatically when the user takes a drag.
“The electrolyte inside the battery is basically the equivalent of gasoline,” explained Venkat Viswanathan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. “So when these batteries short out, there’s a surge of heat that causes this flammable electrolyte to combust and explode.”
Well-made lithium-ion cells have a very small risk of failure. But the cheaper cells “have a much greater chance of having a manufacturing defect,” which increases the likelihood for failure, Viswanathan told NBC News.
If you try and customize an e-cig device and don’t know what you are doing, you are increasing your risk for an accident.
On Sunday, Schumer held a press conference to talk about “exploding” e-cigs and to call for more government intrusion into the vaping industry.
At a press conference Sunday, Schumer cited a recent Associated Press story saying the FDA identified about 66 explosions in 2015 and early 2016 after recording 92 explosions from 2009 to September 2015.
That’s a total of 158 reported “explosions” since 2009. The CDC estimates that more than 9 millions adults are vaping regularly — so when put in that context, the number of accidents doesn’t seem quite as dire.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and that seems to be the case — again and again — for many popular e-cigarettes that have injured dozens of people,” Schumer said. “With any other product, serious action would have been taken and e-cigarettes should be no exception. Despite the explosions, no recalls have been issued. It’s radio silence from both the industry and the feds, so that’s why I’m sounding the alarm.
Schumer’s press conference follows a report on vaping released by the surgeon general designed to whip the public into hysterics. The report focuses on the commonly available drug nicotine, claiming it is a danger to teenagers and children. Nicotine, whether delivered in a patch, lozenge, gum or vaping device, is highly regulated. One difference between the e-cigarette industry and its chief competitor, the Big Pharma companies who make other nicotine-replacement therapy, is the amount of money donated to politicians. E-cigs are also not taxed at the same level as tobacco products, thus depriving government of that taxpayer-cash windfall.
The good news is that Schumer and other Democrat fans of government regulation will be put out of power come mid-January.