9 Investigates: Vaping, E-cigarette dangers

There are growing concerns across the country and the Carolinas about vaping and E-cigarettes.

Over the last few months, there have been several explosions nationwide, leading to fires and hospital visits.

The Food and Drug Administration declared youth vaping an epidemic within the last month.

Josh Bumgarner showed Channel 9 what’s left of his front teeth after an explosion while vaping.

Bumgarner believes the explosion happened because he put a friend’s vaping device together the wrong way.

[RELATED: Vaping device explodes in man's face in Catawba County]

“The button was on the bottom of it. And I went to push the button, and when I did and put it into my mouth and started to inhale, I felt it get really hot. And I couldn’t get it away from my mouth fast enough, and I heard a loud explosion,” Bumgarner said.

There have been several documented cases nationwide of explosions and fires from misuse of the devices and improper storage of batteries.

The United States Fire Administration reviewed 195 reports of e-cigarette related fires and explosions from 2009 to 2016.

It found the cigarettes’ lithium-ion battery a “new and unique hazard,” because they are more prone to explode.

[RELATED: Man loses 9 teeth, suffers burns after e-cigarette device explodes in mouth]

Bumgarner’s wife said she will never forget seeing him seconds after the explosion.

“He was able to get up and run from one end of the house to the other and then just collapsed,” Tiffany Bumgarner said.

Officials said several of the explosions have happened because the lithium-ion batteries were not properly stored.

A store owner showed Channel 9 one of the cases he uses when he’s not using the battery.

“It does prevent with overheating and stuff like that too and anything coming in contact with the electrical contacts,” Spencer Smallwood, with Electric Eye Smoke Shop, said.

Smallwood said vapes that are customized can create problems, especially if the proper battery is not used.

“These are pretty high-end batteries.  If there’s too much or too little resistance that can cause a device failure,” Smallwood said.

The FDA is giving manufacturers until mid-November to submit plans to prevent youth vaping.

It’s estimated that more than two million high school, middle school and college students currently use the devices, including nearly 12 percent of high school students.

The agency is running an aggressive ad campaign to steer young people away from the devices, but there are plenty of vaping advocates.

Kelsey Smith said her husband successfully used a vape to stop smoking.

“I would say he’s definitely not experiencing the shortness of breath anymore that comes along with the negative effects of cigarettes,” Smith said.

The American Vaping Association said millions of people use vapor products each year and tragic events are rare.

Earlier this year, a vape pen explosion in Florida led to one man’s death. The medical examiner said the victim had burns on about 80 percent of his body.

Josh Bumgarner is thankful he wasn’t hurt worse and said he’ll never vape again for his own safety and that of his children.

“I swore off the vapes. I decided if I was going to do anything, I’d smoke cigarettes. I know there’s health risk there, but I’ve never had one blow up in my face,” Bumgarner said.

Comments on this article