Vaping News

The FEMA Of The Species

What should non-deadly things like vaping have to do with FEMA?

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It seems odd that such a government body would be responsible for taking a position on vaping – but they have and their policy statements are cited whenever the media can squeeze one in. Such is the case this week following another ‘explosion’ story.

“I went charge the battery and went to put it into my e-cigarette, I heard a sizzling like it was hitting and I hadn't pushed the button yet. I was on my way to listen to it and when I went to listen to it, it just went bam, like a bullet,” said the poor victim from Wichita.

Seasoned vapers will nod sagely at such a report and identify immediately what happened. A mech mod, a short circuit and a lack of sufficient venting created a pipe bomb for an inexperienced man. A huge level of responsibility rests with the vendor who sold him the equipment – a vendor who, after the event, “pointed to a sign that read ‘e-cigarettes can explode’,” and said “he needed to purchased a small computer chip to keep the battery from exploding”.

A lack of due diligence, customer care and attention to detail allowed another story to trot out FEMA’s advice that a li-ion cell can behave “like a flaming rocket”. Their remit “is to provide national leadership to foster a solid foundation for our fire and emergency services stakeholders in prevention, preparedness and response.” Many might question exactly why a national disaster response unit would be interested in the almost insignificant level of vaping short circuits.

Moreover, it is almost impossible to understand exactly why they are interested in posting a safety assessment on the use of flavours in e-cigarettes. They make bold pronouncements:

  • E-cigarette and flavour manufacturers and marketers should not represent or suggest that the flavour ingredients used in e-cigarettes are safe
  • E-cigarette manufacturers and marketers should take appropriate action to assure the safety of flavour ingredients used in e-cigarettes
  • Reminding everybody that the FDA deem e-cigarettes as tobacco products
  • And, among other things, defining who determines the recommended occupational exposure limits for vape

The media relies on people like FEMA to add weight to stories – and FEMA in turn base all of their opinions on reading the media, it’s a snake eating it’s tail. To calculate the dangers posed they state in their report: “Media reports of 25 separate incidents in the U.S. dating from 2009 to the present were found during an Internet search.” Pretty comprehensive research that ended up as a pretty pie chart and reference to a British death: “Press in the United Kingdom has reported one death in an August 2014 incident where an e-cigarette that was being charged in a non manufacturer-approved device exploded and ignited nearby oxygen equipment.”

Meanwhile, as the newspapers and government agencies whip each other into frenzy another man suffered from a similar incident due to lack of knowledge. Evan Spahlinger’s sister discovered him lying on a floor, his face blackened after another mod failed to vent properly.

In an article devoid of any corroborating substance, she claimed: “They said he has internal and external burns and damage to his lungs from the explosion itself. And possibly the mouth piece went, when the cigarette exploded, it went down his throat and exploded again.” The very first example of a highly volatile drip tip!

As much as FEMA ought to have nothing to do with vaping, vendors owe a duty of care to first time vapers, not just for the safety of the individuals but also for the good of our community and to prevent stories like this from happening.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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