Stories regarding “exploding e-cigarettes” are a routine feature in the media. However, it is never the e-cigarette that vents, it is the battery.
Despite the impression, often given by the media, such incidents are rare. In the period between April 2014 to March 2015 the fire and rescue services were called to 62 e-cigarette battery related fires. This compares with 1,878 fires caused as a result of tobacco products in the same period .
This is however a very serious issue, particularly as these incidents are easily avoided. With this in mind, the UK’s leading trade association for the independent vape industry – The Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) – has launched a battery awareness campaign.
IBVTA has sent all its members (manufacturers, importers, distributors and vendors) detailed guidance on battery safety, and the advice and information they expect them to provide to customers. In addition to this, IBVTA has produced a poster that members can display in their businesses. The poster contains the following battery safety advice for businesses and consumers:
· Always buy from a reputable vendor that is proud of the quality of their goods,
· Check that the product or packaging displays the correct CE and ROHS markings and that the distributor can prove their authenticity,
· Do not mix a battery from one supplier with a charger from another unless compatibility is specifically confirmed,
· Attach the battery to the charger in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions,
· Do not charge the battery close to flammable materials,
· Always ensure batteries are charged using a suitable power source,
· Do not leave a charging battery unattended, and ensure battery and charger connections are always clean,
· Never allow your battery to come into contact with metal items such as loose change or keys in a pocket or bag as this can result in a short circuit of the battery,
· Removable batteries must be stored and transported in suitable containers when not in use,
· If the battery is in any way damaged, leaking or ceases to function normally, it should not be used, and
· Batteries should be disposed of and recycled correctly.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Fraser Cropper, Chairman of IBVTA said:
“Battery safety is an issue IBVTA and the wider independent vape industry takes very seriously. A failure to do so can have serious consequences for consumers and the industry. It is therefore vital that as an industry we are doing everything that we can to prevent these incidents from happening, and the important thing to remember is that they are preventable.
The impression created is that these events are a regular occurrence, thankfully they are not, in fact they are very rare. There are nearly three million regular vapers in the UK and virtually all of them will go through their vaping lives without any battery related fires. By contrast, combustible tobacco continues to be responsible for well over 1,000 fires a year.”
Garry Dibley, IBVTA’s Membership and Advice Line Manager concluded:
“As an association, we seek to provide our members with the best and most up-to-date advice and support available. Battery safety is an issue of primary importance and one that our members raise with IBVTA on a routine basis.
We hope that by providing our members with this guidance, they will be able to better serve their customers. At the same time, we will be able to raise awareness of battery safety amongst the wider vaping community and hopefully provide smokers, who may have been put off vaping because of some of the media coverage around “exploding e-cigarettes”, with the confidence to switch to a significantly less harmful alternative.”
 According to the Home Office, in the period April 2014 – March 2015, Smokers’ materials (such as cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco) caused 36 per cent of fatalities in accidental dwelling fires in 2014/15, and was by far the largest ignition category. There were 31,300 dwelling fire incidents in this period, of which six per cent were caused by smokers’ materials. (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/532364/fire-statistics-england-1415-hosb0816.pdf).
According to the Fire and Rescue Service in England and Wales, they were called out to 62 e-cigarette battery related fires in the period April 2014 – March 2015.