Tom Holloway of Pensacola, Florida had all of his teeth and part of his tongue blown off when the electronic cigarette he was smoking exploded on Monday evening. Holloway suffered severe burns and injuries from the defective product and is believed to still be in the hospital undergoing treatment for his injuries, which will likely involve reconstructive surgery and teeth replacements. Thankfully, Tom Holloway’s injuries are non-life threatening and he is expected to survive.
The incident occurred in Holloway’s home in Panhandle, as Holloway sat in the study using an electronic cigarette. According to reports, his wife was in the other room at the time of the disaster. She heard an explosion and, right after, her husband’s scream. “She said that it sounded like a firecracker, and it was just a horrible noise, and she heard him scream and she ran in there,” said Wendy Jensen, a neighbor of the couple.
When Holloway’s wife entered the study, she found her husband with blood running down his face, missing all of his teeth and a chunk of his tongue. The explosion was extremely hot and reportedly set the study on fire, although it is not known how extensive the property damage was. Rescue and Fire officials arrived soon after the explosion to assist Mr. Holloway, likely called by Holloway’s wife or neighbors who heard the explosion and subsequent commotion.
Chief Butch Parker of the North Bay Fire District, which responded to the call, told the press that the explosion was believed to have started in the electronic cigarette’s battery. “And what we believe was in the battery, and whenever the battery ignited, it was basically like him holding a bottle rocket in his mouth,” commented Parker.
Holloway is a professional photographer and a Vietnam War veteran. He is the father of three children and is well-liked in his community. His neighbor Wendy Jensen described him a s “just a super nice guy. Holloway had been suffering from some lung-related health complications for the past few years problems, so he stopped smoking real cigarettes some time ago, said Jensen. He had reportedly been smoking electronic cigarettes for two years without incident when the explosion occurred.
Electronic cigarettes are an alternative to smoking, usually used by people who want to quit. They mimic the act of smoking a real cigarette by heating a nicotine-laced liquid, which then evaporates and resembles real cigarette smoke in flavor and nicotine content. They are currently under scrutiny by the FDA and other organizations, who are conducting studies to determine whether the vapor is safe to inhale. In fact, they have been attacked by the FDA before for using unapproved substances and making unsubstantiated health claims. However, this appears to be the first instance of an injury involving a defective product such as an exploding electronic cigarette on record.
Officials were unable to determine the brand of the electronic cigarette, as it had disintegrated following the disaster. The electronic cigarette company will likely be facing a serious lawsuit from the Holloways once Mr. Holloway is able to leave the hospital.