Injuries from vaping are rising steadily – ACC figures

By Oscar François from

Vape sellers are reassuring the public about the safety of their products despite an eight-fold increase in device-related injuries.

Close up of a man vaping an electronic cigarette

Photo: 123RF

Figures obtained by the Otago Daily Times from the ACC under the Official Information Act showed that the annual number of injuries had increased from nine in 2016 to 72 in the first 11 months of 2021.

Injuries from vaping have increased steadily over the years in almost every category.

Claims accepted for injuries resulting from burns, which ACC said were typically caused by devices exploding or catching fire, had increased steadily each year, from less than four in 2016 to 12 in 2021.

Other injuries that have increased include lacerations from cuts in the glass components of devices and injuries from inhaling or ingesting vape juice.

The ACC warned that the numbers did not represent the total number of vaping-related injuries in New Zealand, as they only included cases where a claim was accepted.

Cosmic New Zealand’s director of human resources and operations, Scott Curtis, believed the increase in injuries was due to the increasing prevalence of vaping as an effective method of quitting smoking.

At the same time, increasing industry regulation was contributing to a safer consumer environment for people who used the devices, Curtis said.

Some retailers had jumped on the growing popularity of vaping without doing the work necessary to become a reputable supplier, increasing the chances of something going wrong.

However, Health Ministry regulations that came into effect yesterday restricting the sale of flavored vape juice to specialty stores would make it harder to compete in the market for stores without specialized expertise.

“No one has been physically damaged by a device we have sold, to my knowledge. But we have seen batteries that acted in a way that could potentially cause [injury],” he said.

Improper care and maintenance could damage the devices.

In particular, it can be dangerous to charge vapers on wall outlets when they are designed for weaker power outlets such as computer USB ports.

It was also important for consumers to ensure that a device was turned off before it was placed in pockets, although most devices now have automatic circuit breakers, Curtis said.

He encouraged people to buy vapes from reputable retailers and follow sellers’ advice for product care and maintenance.

Vapo George St director Malcolm Lee said overheated vaping is rare. He had only seen one in his year at the store. This involved a customer bringing a device, bought elsewhere, that was pulling in his pocket, potentially because it was faulty, Lee said.

His store also noted two “very, very minor” reactions to propylene glycol, a common ingredient in vape juices.

– This story first appeared on the Otago Daily Times website

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