NICEVILLE, FL – A Florida man who quit smoking two years ago and turned to electronic cigarettes to ease his tobacco cravings has been admitted to a burn center after the e-cigarette exploded in his mouth.
Tom Holloway, 57, had all of his teeth knocked out in the explosion, according to an ABC News report. He also lost part of his tongue. A fire chief who responded to the emergency told ABC that he “never heard of or seen anything like this before,” and that Mr. Holloway’s injuries looked as if he had put a “bottle rocket in his mouth.”
Mr. Holloway’s wife was at home Monday night when the incident occurred. She told authorities it sounded as if a firecracker had exploded in the study, and then she heard her husband, a Vietnam veteran, photographer, and father of three scream. In addition to severely injuring Mr. Holloway, the explosion set the room on fire.
Electronic cigarettes are smoking-cessation devices that deliver nicotine and other dangerous chemicals, some of which are unknown, to the user in vapor form, simulating the act of smoking and theoretically easing cigarette cravings by providing a level of psychological and physical satisfaction. But these forms of nicotine replacement therapy, or NRT, aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, nor have any formal studies been conducted to shed light on their safety and efficacy.
Dr. Stephen Jay, professor of medicine and public health at Indiana University, told ABC News that people who use electronic cigarettes do so at their own risk. “Claims by manufacturers and distributors are just that – claims,” Dr. Jay told ABC, stressing that the products “should be regulated now” and not some unknown date in the future.
“We have no idea of what specific chemicals are contained in these products or the safety of components of e-cigs, including the batteries,” Dr . Jay told ABC, adding that the devices likely present other risks, such as turning younger people onto smoking, as one study has found.
Dr. Spangler told ABC he remains neutral when patients ask him about e-cigarettes, but reminds them the devices aren’t regulated for safety or purity. “I also mention that impurities such as antifreeze have been found in some samples. Then I let the patient decide,” he told ABC news.