Michael Del, a 34 year old construction worker from Boston, Massachusetts, was killed early last Wednesday as the e-cigarette he was smoking sent a jolt of electricity through his body, knocking him unconscious. Del, who was on a lunch break while working an overnight on job site in Cambridge, had reportedly been using the e-cigarettes to help quit smoking, a habit he had for nearly 20 years. He was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital where doctors were unable to revive him. They pronounced him dead at 7:18AM.
“Michael started smoking really young. It was my fault. I smoked around him all the time, and left cigarettes laying around,” Said Charmaine Del, Michael’s mother. “He had decided he wanted to quit. We both did, and we heard the e-cigs were a good way to help. So I bought us both one to get started. He’d only been using it for about a week.”
Reports from the hospital were that Del had been using his e-cigarette while it was plugged into his truck, charging. E-cigarettets are small, pen-sized items that contain internal batteries, and smokers can add nicotine-infused flavor ‘cartridges’ into them. Just like a cell phone, the batteries can be charged, and most e-cigarettes come with USB charger similar to that of a phone.
The instructions for most e-cigarettes that have chargers insist that you do not try to use them while charging, but like most men Del apparently skipped the directions and opted to just try and figure out how they worked using trial-and-error. Unfortunately for him, the warnings posted on the package for this product were extremely important.
A representative for Black, INC., the manufacturer of the e-cigarette Del had purchased, released a statement expressing their condolences.
“We at Black are extremely saddened to learn that one of our products has caused the death of a customer. We are terribly sorry, as these unfortunate events are never easy for anyone. We send or deepest sympathies to his family. As this is the first such death from e-cigarettes though, we’d like to remind people that we’re still doing far better than Big Tobacco, whose death toll is in the millions.”
E-cigarettes have been a continued source of controversy since they first launched only a few short years ago, and the debate about their safety in comparison to a traditional cigarette has caused a stir in the medical community. This is the first death caused by e-cigarettes since their widespread use began in 2003.