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News Stories

Vaping Horror: 4 in NJ Say They Were Badly Burned by Exploding E-cigs

Clip from Article on New Jersey 101.5

by reporter David Matthau

Greg Burdash, a married father of two living in the Camden County borough of Berlin, said he gave vaping a chance in order to quit smoking cigarettes and save his health.

But on Sept. 29, during a break at work, the e-cig battery he had in his pocket exploded. Burdash was rushed to the hospital suffering from debilitating third-degree burns over 20 percent of his body.

“I was in complete shock,” he said Thursday during a news conference in Princeton. “I heard a hissing sound, and then the explosion and then the pain. I looked down and my leg was on fire and I started running.”

“I have had incredible pain since then. I’ve not been able to return to work. It not only hurts you financially, it hurts you mentally and physically, I still have bleeding, and my doctor has told me nerve damage is expected to be permanent.”

Burdash said he was speaking out because “I want people to be aware of the dangers of vaping and how harmful this can be and I don’t anyone to suffer the way I have.”

Burdash is one of four recent plaintiffs in New Jersey filing lawsuits against the retailers that sold them the e-cigs that they say left them with serious injuries.

The two underage and two adult plaintiffs are represented by the Lawrenceville firm Stark & Stark, which has partnered with Bentley & More, a California firm that has litigated e-cig complaints across the nation.

“These and other cases involve horrific injuries suffered by wonderful people who were simply using a product the way it was intended to be used,” said attorney Greg Bentley.

He said people are being injured just about every day by defective e-cigarette lithium ion batteries.

“They are just randomly exploding in people’s faces. Batteries in people’s pockets causing significant life changing injuries,” he said.

E-cigs or electronic vaporizers are an alternative to tobacco smoking. They emit a vapor that is said to be less harmful than smoking tobacco products. Users can choose to vape liquid cartridges containing nicotine, which can help some users end their cigarette addictions.

The e-cig industry insists their products are safe.

Bentley claims the problem is 90 percent of e-cigarette products are manufactured in China, and the companies making them understand it’s almost impossible to hold them responsible for the defective lithium ion batteries that are in the e-cigs.

“It’s an industry that’s literally exploding, both in dollar numbers, in consumers that are using it, and in the products that are exploding randomly,” he said.

He noted more than 31 million American adults have tried e-cigarettes, and 9 million are regular users. Last year Forbes estimated the e-cigarette industry was worth $3.7 billion, and it continues to increase.

Bentley claims the e-cig industry is targeting teenagers, offering e-cig liquids with fruity flavors and silly names.

“Studies show 16 percent of high school students have used an e-cig product,” he said.

The Food and Drug Administration this year banned sales of e-cigs to minors.

“We know the problem is going to continue unless this industry checks itself and makes sure the product is safe,”