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February 26th, 2016:

Surprise man recovering from e-cig explosion

SURPRISE, Ariz. – David Garcia said he’d never heard of an e-cigarette exploding before it happened to him.

Garcia said he put a spare set of batteries in his pocket before he got into his car. A few minutes later, Garcia said those batteries exploded and his pants were on fire.

“As I got into the turn lane, my pocket just combusted and it just lit up like the Fourth of July,” Garcia said. “I called my wife screaming, ‘I’m on fire!'”

Garcia spent a week at the Arizona Burn Center at Maricopa Medical Center recovering from second- and third-degree burns to his leg and hand. Doctors gave him a skin graft on his leg and told him he likely has weeks of recovery.

“It’s a fairly common problem,” Dr. Kevin Foster of the Arizona Burn Center said. “We’ve seen two or three of these cases here in the last couple of months.”

The problem, experts said, is due to the lithium batteries that power the e-cigarettes. Kevin Russell, a manager at Vape Escapes in North Phoenix, said the batteries are covered in plastic to protect them, but that plastic can be damaged or chipped away.

If the metal is exposed, he said, any contact with another piece of metal will cause the batteries to “vent”, or explode. In Garcia’s case, Russell said it’s likely the other piece of metal was the second battery in his pocket.

“If there’s any tearing or damage around the outside of the wrap and metal connects with it,” Russell said, “whether it be an additional battery, a coin or a key, it can cause the battery to short out.”

Garcia’s family have started a GoFundMe account to help with expenses. Garcia said he was supposed to be staying home with their newborn son after his wife’s maternity leave ran out, but now that’s not possible.

Valley man recovering after e-cig explosion

PHOENIX (KSAZ) – Smoking electronic cigarettes, or “vaping” has become a popular substitute for cigarettes.

But one Valley man has a warning for users after he says the battery for his device exploded in his pocket.

The only thing he had in his pocket were two batteries for his e-cig. He spent a week at the Maricopa Medical Center’s Burn Unit, and doctors say he isn’t the first.

“It sounded like you had a pocket full of fireworks going off,” said David Garcia.

Garcia has 2nd and 3rd-degree burns mostly on his right leg. He spent seven days in the hospital, where doctors did skin graphs on his leg, and his fingers were also badly burned. He was driving when something in his pocket exploded.

“It just ignites, it just burst into flames. I knew I didn’t light it or anything; there was no reason for this flame to be 8-12 inches from my leg,” he said.

Garcia got out of his car and removed his shorts which were on fire.

“That is when I noticed it was the batteries, they had fallen out at that time,” said Garcia.

An e-cig battery is also being blamed for an incident at a gas station in Kentucky. The victim also had serious burns on his legs.

“The e-cigarettes are powered by a lithium-ion battery, and that battery can overheat, and then it can explode, and the whole unit can explode,” said Dr. Kevin Foster.

Foster says there’s been an increase in patients with burns from exploding e-cig batteries.

“I can remember 3 of them in the last 3-4 months, and two of them in the last month,” said Foster.

Garcia is now back home but has a message to users of the e-cigs.

“These things aren’t as safe as they say they are, you know I started vaping to quit cigarettes, and it worked for that, since the fire I have quit vaping as well now,” said Garcia.

He is now exploring whether to file a lawsuit against the battery maker.


Tobacco plain packaging has been a remarkable success, and has already saved thousands of lives, according to the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and other groups.

A report released today concludes that the effects of plain packaging are “underestimated” but these positive outcomes are expected to grow.

Plain packaging, which was a first for Australia, was introduced in December 2012 by the Gillard Government. Researchers now believe it has been essential in the decline of smoking rates.

PHAA Tobacco spokesperson Professor Mike Daube, who chaired the Australian government’s expert committee says “it is great news for everyone except big tobacco”.

“We know that smoking in adults and children and cigarette sales are declining, but it is especially rewarding that this meticulous independent analysis attributes part of that decline to plain packaging alone, even within its first three years.”

He adds that the plain packaging legislation has resulted in a stunning outcome.

“Even leaving aside the rest of the decline, and impacts on children, plain packaging alone has been responsible for tens of thousands of adults quitting since its introduction in late 2012.”

PHAA chief executive Michael Moore claims that plain packaging is a proven success.

“It is saving lives even in the short term, and will save many more in the years to come. No wonder the tobacco industry opposed it so desperately. All their arguments have failed, and plain packaging has become one of Australia’s most successful exports.”

“We congratulate all major parties for their continuing support of tobacco control and plain packaging. This is a triumph for public health and for a bipartisan approach to our largest preventable cause of death and disease. There is still work to be done, and the tobacco companies and their allies will do everything they can to keep selling their lethal products. This early outcome shows that the legislation is working, and Australia is winning the war on tobacco.”

Also the National Heart Foundation welcomed the results of the report.

Adding further credence to the results, the report also concluded that “this effect is likely understated and is expected to grow over time,” it said in a media statement today, adding it was another win against so-called “big tobacco”.

The figures come from the Government’s Tobacco Plain Packaging – Post Implementation Review that confirms approximately one quarter of the total decline in smoking rates were attributable to plain packaging since the legislation was introduced in December 2012.

National Heart Foundation tobacco control spokesperson, and President of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Maurice Swanson says this report sends a clear message that plain packaging on tobacco products works.

“The report undeniably shows that the legislation is working and has been the catalyst for tens of thousands of adults quitting and saved the lives of many thousands of Australians,” says Swanson

“The legislation was always designed for long-term impact and if these results are merely the start of the journey, a smoke-free Australia could one day be a reality.”

Tobacco Plain Packaging Post–implementation Review – Department of Health

In April 2010 the then Prime Minister announced a decision to require all tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging. The regulation also standardised the appearance of the tobacco products themselves.

A Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) was required but not finalised before the decision. Consequently, under the Government’s best practice regulation process a Post‑implementation Review (PIR) was required.

The measure was fully implemented from 1 December 2012.

A PIR was completed by the Department of Health in February 2016 and was assessed as compliant by the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR). Regulatory costings have been agreed with the OBPR.

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Tobacco industry attacks WHO, but only incriminates itself

The tobacco industry lost the health argument 50 years ago, and in the past decade the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) developed the antidote to reverse the smoking epidemic. However the tobacco industry is stepping up direct attacks, particularly at WHO. Recently the industry took pot shots yet again at WHO and the FCTC Conference of the Parties (COP) in its mouthpiece, Tobacco Reporter. The article, (Snail Mail, Jan 2016) makes several ludicrous accusations against both WHO and the COP but ends up only incriminating itself. We pull quotes from the article and provide our response.

TR: “Most of the besuited classes that turn up at COP7 will have few insights into the lives of the financially impoverished people who tend to make up the world’s smokers.”

SEATCA: In reality the tobacco industry has been making billions in profits from selling cigarettes to financially impoverished people all over the world. Eighty percent of the world’s 1.2 billion smokers are in developing countries. Studies have shown that in the poorest households in many low-income countries, spending on tobacco products often represents more than 10% of total household expenditure. Don’t forget the famous response from the R.J. Reynolds executive when asked why he didn’t smoke: “We don’t smoke that shit! We just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and the stupid.”

TR: “People who turn up at COP7 will almost certainly be well-fed and cossetted”

SEATCA: Government officials make up the bulk of the delegates who attend the COP and it seems the industry has no qualms insulting them.

TR: “Wonder whether these smokers really want to trade in what is possibly one of the few enjoyments they have for the few extra years of poverty and struggle …”

SEATCA: Most smokers started smoking when they were still minors and did not know any better. Most smokers (70%) want to quit. What the industry refers to flippantly as “few enjoyments” actually leads to illness for many million smokers. Worldwide, about 6 million people die each year , often painfully, because of smoking. This not only affects smokers – it devastates families, emotionally and financially.

TR: “There are far too many people demonizing smokers…”

SEATCA: The FCTC does not demonise smokers. It does the reverse to help smokers quit. Smokers are addicted to nicotine and exposed to the thousands of harmful chemical compounds in the product. Two out three of the tobacco industry’s long term customers die prematurely because of their smoking, however the industry continues to push this harmful product. FCTC measures are aimed squarely at the industry, protecting non-smokers and supporting smokers to quit.

TR: “… making decisions about cigarette smoking without understanding it.”

SEATCA: There is no misunderstanding because the evidence is in – cigarette smoke contains 7,000 chemical compounds, many of which are carcinogenic.

TR: “People choose to smoke.”

SEATCA: Nicotine addiction is not a choice. Most smokers want to quit but find it hard – the addiction is potent displaying similarities to hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin. For decades, the tobacco industry denied or downplayed the harms of tobacco, and it has engineered its products to enhance their addictiveness. It has fought regulations to protect non-smokers from cigarette smoke, restrictions on advertising, and health warnings to inform the public about the danger of smoking.

The WHO is fulfilling its responsibility to support 180 governments’ obligation to implement the FCTC to reduce tobacco use and reverse the smoking epidemic to save lives. An industry that continues to peddle a product that kills has lost the basic concept of humanity.

Shame on the tobacco industry for exploiting the poor and taking pot shots at the WHO and the COP.