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A dangerous habit: e-cigarette explosions prompt a string of California lawsuits

Update: This article was updated to include the brand names of the e-cigarettes named in the lawsuits, where available.

They’re often promoted as the safer alternative to cigarettes, but there’s nothing safe about an e-cigarette exploding in your mouth. A string of disastrous incidents involving volatile electronic cigarettes has now prompted three lawsuits in California, and it seems these cases will only increase in number.

Three men have filed complaints against makers, wholesalers, and retailers of e-cigarettes alike, blaming the devices for severe injuries like second-degree burns, shattered teeth, and even finger loss, not to mention the serious mental trauma that comes with having something blow up in your mouth.

Vicente Garza, one of the men involved in such a lawsuit, had an e-cigarette from Flawless Vapes & Supplies, LLC, explode on him while he was lifting the product to his face, according to the Los Angeles Times. His left index finger was amputated, his mouth and dominant hand were severely burned, and even a month after the incident, his tongue is still so damaged that it is difficult for him to eat.

“I never in my life thought that something like this would happen,” said the 23-year-old at a news conference on Thursday.

But as it turns out, it happens quite often, he claims. “E-cigarette explosions are becoming all too common as this industry is taking off,” Garza’s lawyer, Gregory Bentley, told the Times. “Consumers have the right to expect that products have been properly designed, manufactured, and tested for safety before they are put into the marketplace.”

Related: UK gov’t finds e-cigs 95 percent less harmful than normal cigarettes

The other men filing lawsuits in the state are Daniel Califf, a former soccer player with the Los Angeles Galaxy, who suffered facial fractures and second-degree burns on his neck, ear, and face; and Gregory Phillips, who has been dealing with second-degree burns on his left leg resulting from an e-cigarette that exploded in his pocket. The e-cigarette brands connected to these incidents were not immediately available.

“This is an unregulated industry this is causing harm across the country,” Bentley added. “It’s been a national problem and public safety is at risk.”