A father-of-three was hospitalised after his electronic cigarette spilled hot liquid nicotine down his throat, burning a hole in his right lung.
Richard Courtney, from Surrey, bought the £100 device in an attempt to give up smoking.
E-cigarettes work by vaporizing a solution that usually contains nicotine. The cartridge contains a liquid nicotine containing either propylene glycol or glycerine and water and when a user sucks on the device, the liquid is heated up and turned it into water vapour.
When he couldn’t breathe a day after the incident, he went to hospital where he was told his right lung was working at just 25% capacity.
He added: “One of the nurses there put my vape on an oxygen tube and showed that it was spitting liquid out.”
Courtney spent two nights in a Redhill hospital before being discharged with an inhaler. But while the 33-year-old has been put off e-cigarettes, he is back to smoking roll-ups.
The Chinese manufacturer of the e-cigarette, KangerTech, has not responded to requests for comment.
It’s not the first time vaping has been linked to an injury. In July James Lauria was left with first-degree burns and a hole in the roof of his mouth after his e-cigarette “blew up” in his face.
Lauria, of Alabama, was airlifted to hospital, where he spent a week in intensive care.
Speaking to Fox 5 News, his father Ed revealed his son had: “Burns to his hand and a fractured neck and finger, and burns to his cornea. It blew a hole through his pallet and at the same time, flames went down and he got first-degree burns on his chest and up on his face. It forced his front tooth up into his gum- out of sight -and chipped the other one and damaged a few other lower teeth.”
There are an estimated 2.1million e-cigarette users in the UK.
E-cigarettes are generally seen to be a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, which are known for their harmful carcinogenic chemicals.
But at present the e-cigarette industry is not regulated, and so there is no long term data to reassure users about the safety of the products.
While they are promoted as a means to stop smoking, some experts have expressed concerns they may act as a “gateway” to harmful illicit drugs.
Scientists pointed out that while eliminating many of the toxic compounds found in tobacco, e-cigarettes delivered highly addictive “pure nicotine”.
In mice, nicotine was found to alter brain biochemistry and prime the animals to develop a need for cocaine.
Analysis of human data suggested it had the same effect in people, with cocaine addiction rates highest among former cigarette smokers.
“Our findings provided a biological basis for the sequence of drug use observed in people,” US neuroscientist Professor Eric Kandel, who conducted the research with his wife, Dr Denise Kandel, said.
“One drug alters the brain’s circuitry in a way that enhances the effects of a subsequent drug.”