Holy Smoke: E-Cigarette Explodes in Man's Mouth

By Will Godfrey 02/15/12

A faulty battery leaves a Florida man with severe facial injuries.

E-cigarettes are a popular way to try to
quit smoking.
Photo via

Something as innocuous-sounding as a faulty battery caused an electric cigarette to explode in a man's mouth in Florida Monday night, with devastating consequences. Niceville resident Tom Holloway, 57, was puffing on the device as part of an attempt to quit real cigarettes and improve his health. But the explosion blew away some of his front teeth and a section of his tongue, and caused severe burns to his face. Joseph Parker, division chief of the North Bay Fire Department, describes the situation as like "trying to hold a bottle rocket in your mouth when it went off." He adds, "The battery flew out of the tube and set the closet on fire." The battery in question is believed to have been of the rechargeable lithium variety, but the brand of e-cigarette is still unknown. Two and a half million Americans used electronic cigarettes last year. "There have been billions and billions of puffs on the cigarettes and we have not heard of this happening before," says Thomas Kiklas, co-founder of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association.

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Will Godfrey is the former editor-in-chief of TheFix. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of Substance.com, and previously co-founded a magazine for prisoners in London. His work has appeared in Salon, Pacific Standard, AlterNet and The Nation among others. He is currently the Executive Director at FILTER. You can find Will on Linkedin and Twitter.