A Florida man’s electronic cigarette exploded while he was using it, knocking out some front teeth and causing severe burns on his face, according to officials from North Bay Fire Department. Joseph Parker, Fire Department Chief, said he believes the device’s battery blew up while he was inhaling from it. Parker said it was as if a rocket had ignited in the victim’s mouth.

According to reports in local media, it appears the man, who had been using the electronic cigarette to give up tobacco smoking also lost part of his tongue.

The fire chief, who added that the device’s battery seemed to be faulty, said that the victim thanked them yesterday and said he would probably be leaving a hospital in Mobile, Ala. Today.

No details have yet been released regarding the electronic cigarette brand, and what type of battery it contained. Parker believes it is a rechargeable lithium battery, because they found a recharging station.

The victim’s name has not been released. However, local media point towards a Tom Holloway (57) Facebook page which has filled up with get-better messages from friends commenting on a very similar incident – both addresses match, the one in the fire report and the other in the social media page.

The electronic cigarette explosion also burned the man’s carpet, chair, pictures and cushions – he was at his office at home when the incident occurred. Officials found a burnt battery care surrounded by melted carpet. Other members of his household, on hearing the explosion, came to his rescue and tried to extinguish the fire with salt.

Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, and vaporizer cigarettes are devices that mimic the movements and sensations of tobacco cigarette smoking – they emit vaporized nicotine which is inhaled. The mechanism is driven by a battery, and the device can also emit hundreds of other non-nicotine vaporized solutions, such as menthol, cola, coffee and even strawberry.

E-cigarette manufacturers and sellers say that their devices do not contain the more than 4,000 different harmful chemicals contained in cigarette smoke.

Device makers, as well as a growing number of users, say the e-cigarette really does provide a very similar sensation to tobacco smoking, but without the combustion (without the smoke).

E-cigarettes are long tube-shaped devices, many of which look similar to the tobacco products the user used to smoke (or perhaps still does) – some look like ballpoint pens. Some are reusable, while others are throw-away ones.

Electronic cigarettes RN4072 CT-M401
Examples of two electronic cigarettes and their spare detatchment batteries (picture used for illustration pusporses only; the brand of the exploding device has not yet been revealed)

Tobacco giant, Reynolds American Inc. says its new electronic cigarette “VUSE” will be available at retail stores in Colorado in July, 2013.

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Written by Christian Nordqvist