News Commentary: The Birmingham e Cigarette Explosion Incident
This article could present something of a sore spot for certain individuals involved in it. So let me preface this by saying, first and foremost, that while it’s going to seem at first blush as though I’m casting personal aspersions here, I assure you that I’m not.
I’m sure the people involved in this are decent human beings; but I am going to subject some of these decent human beings’ choices and apparent motives to what I strongly believe is some well-earned derision. Now then:
Every so often, a headline like this one comes along: “Birmingham Woman’s Shock As e-Cigarette Explodes In Its Charger.”
To be sure, that would be a frightening thing to have happen with any electronic device in your home. And that’s the point of reporting on stories like this one, isn’t it? To generate fright. To cause fear and to use that fear to advance an agenda. Or perhaps it’s not as sinister as that. Maybe it’s just because explode-y things push readership numbers higher. It could be malice driving these stories, or it could be as simple as callous, indifferent number grinding.
Whatever the motivation may be to publish stories like this one, we do know that the vast majority of stories like this aren’t motivated by a genuine concern for public safety. How do we know this? Because these stories have another common feature: under-reporting. Gross, negligent under-reporting, of a type so fundamental and so pervasive that only one of two conclusions can logically be reached regarding them:
Either the public good is not really what motivates them,
or the reporting parties are — to be sure — staggeringly, hilariously incompetent at their jobs.
It makes me wonder if, one day, some of these writers will be portrayed on film in the tradition of Peter Sellers’ portrayal of Inspector Clouseau, complete with mumbled nonsense and acrobatic pratfalls.
Let’s have a look at the tragicomedy that is this story:
The Birmingham Mail’s Version
Located HERE the story tells of the woes of a Birmingham, U.K., grandmother who purchased a “Kangertech ProTank 3 cigarette from a man in her local pub for £25…”
And immediately I think we all see what the issue is — or perhaps simply the first of a host of issues here. As most of our readers know, the Kangertech ProTank 3 is only a clearomizer, not a complete system in and of itself. But, apparently, neither Mrs. Linda Simpson (the aforementioned grandmother) nor anyone at the Birmingham Mail knew that — nor does there appear to even be any confusion from them on it, because as you will see in the photographs in the linked article, the battery displays no branding.
The very next issue I think we all see is that it’s an incredibly bad idea to purchase any PV from a stranger in a pub. What about that idea, even for a fleeting instant, seems clever? This is a piece of electronics; moreover, it’s one that you use by putting it in immediate proximity to your face; so why would you buy such a thing under circumstances like that, where you can’t verify its origin, quality or, really, its condition?
I have a personal rule when it comes to electronic devices, and I think it’s one that’s stood me in good stead for a very long time, and can do the same for our readers:
No packaging — no sale.
But the story as presented in the Birmingham Mail is not the whole story. One of the comments at the above provided link leads to a rather different account of the events — and had the Birmingham Mail done right by its readers, they would have discovered this different account of events, and the story would have a markedly different light upon it.
Let me provide that light for you now.
The Facebook Version
Take a moment if you will, Gentle Reader, and have a read through this Facebook post…
Lest there be any doubt, this is the same woman at the center of the Birmingham Mail article, and as you can see by comparing the photo on that Facebook post, the same PV. But several key details of the narrative are fundamentally different:
In this account, she warns against charging the device overnight. We also have her husband arriving home to find the device burning, rather than being there to witness the “explosion.” Interestingly, her initial story makes no mention of her being present at the time at all.
Now, do I think Mrs. Simpson had any malicious intent in changing up the details? No. Absolutely not. There always exists the possibility that an occurrence like this could apply enough trauma on a person to cause them to omit certain details from an adrenaline-rush-soaked initial telling, then recall them later after calming down.
Mrs. Simpson undoubtedly did have a bad experience with a piece of faulty hardware, but that’s not the lesson to be drawn here. Let me lay out for you what I think are the lessons to be drawn here:
1. Know where your hardware and eliquid came from.
2. Always exercise good safety habits with all electronic devices.
3. Never trust what you read just because of where you read it. Follow up. Dig deeper.
Once again, we have a story here that demonstrates, quite clearly, that the media are only too happy to jump on stories of faulty hardware and uninformed users to drive their readership numbers up without putting in the full amount of work required in order to provide accurate and thorough reporting.
As promised, we at Spinfuel will do our level best to not only seek out and bring your attention to flawed stories like these, but also to provide you with the most accurate and thorough reporting we can.
Vape on, my friends. TGIF!