Jan. 11--A man trying to quit smoking is recovering from injuries that he said occurred when his e-cigarette exploded.
Joe Vecchione, 54, of Sneads Ferry said the incident occurred at approximately 11:45 late last year at his home on CCC Road in Sneads Ferry. The pipe-shaped device, which uses a battery to dispense the smoke, "erupted" in his face and left him temporarily blind and in pain, according to Vecchione.
"My eyes were burning," Vecchione said. "It was like a bunch of hot oil hit my face."
In order to use machines like the one Vecchione said he used the night of the incident, a liquid substance called "juice" is used. The brand he used, which was from Buckeye Vapors of Grove City, Ohio, contains propylene glycol and alcohol, which are both combustible.
Vecchione was taken to the hospital by Onslow County EMS and was treated for injuries at Onslow Memorial Hospital, where he was released the next morning, according to Amy Sousa of Onslow Memorial Hospital.
Vecchione said the incident was a surprise to him since he didn't know about the danger.
"The warning on the box was so small, I could hardly read it," Vecchione said. "I had no idea it could pack a punch like that."
Vecchione said he bought the machine at Vaporizit in Hamstead. A store representative declined to comment.
Vecchione's wife of 18 years, Jennifer Vecchione, said she never heard of e-cigarettes exploding before that night.
"I couldn't believe it," Jennifer Vecchione said. "I thought he was going to go blind. All I could think of was all that nicotine seeping into his eyeballs."
Vecchione said he had been using electronic cigarettes for nearly two months after smoking continually for 17 years. Vecchione said he wanted to stop smoking because of recent health developments within his family and circle of friends, including an uncle with emphysema. Before that, Vecchione said he tried using other smoking alternatives, including nicotine patches, which he said gave him nightmares due to the PTSD he said he acquired after spending 23 years as a firefighter in New Jersey and New York.
The FDA does not currently keep official statistic on the frequency of e-cigarette explosions, though they do offer people who have experienced adverse results because of them to contact them through their MedWatch program on their website.
According to Vecchione, he still suffers from the incident: The bottom of his left eyeball is sensitive to light, hard to see out of and will need to be looked at by an optometrist. Vecchione also says he doesn't plan on seeking an attorney unless the damage to his eye is permanent but hopes those who do plan on using products like e-cigarettes will be cautious.
"I just want to get the word out about these things," Joe Vecchione said. "This went from being a really great thing to something I never want to touch again."
Christopher Thomas is a staff writer at The Daily News. To contact him, call 910-219-8473 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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