London Euston bomb scare: How dangerous are e-cigarettes?

Police evacuate the station after e-cigarette explodes on the main concourse

(Image credit: AFP/Getty Images)

One of London's busiest train stations was in lockdown for part of last night after a small explosion blamed on an e-cigarette sent dozens of armed officers to Euston station fearing a bomb attack.

British Transport Police described is as a "small contained explosion which is believed to have been caused by an e-cigarette which was in a bag at the station."

While no one was hurt, the explosion has raised questions about the safety of e-cigarettes. More than 2.2m Britons use e-cigarettes and vaping has been taken up at a faster rate than any other country in the EU, according to a report by the accounting firm EY.

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What are e-cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, contain nicotine vapour that usually comes in a disposable, refillable tank.

Is this the first explosion linked to e-cigarettes?

No, several explosions have been linked to e-cigarettes in the past. Surveillance video shot in New York last November appears to show an electronic cigarette exploding in a man's trouser pocket. Otis Gooding, 31, was admitted to a burn unit and required surgery, ABC reported.

The Manchester Evening News reported in March last year that an electronic cigarette in a local man's pocket exploded "like a roman candle". Colin Crow from Levenshulme said the blast left him with serious injuries and the heat melted the bank card inside his pocket.

eCigOne, a website dedicated to e-cigarette news and vapour reviews, has posted a list of 243 e-cigarette explosions that it calls "significant".

Who regulates vaping?

E-cigarettes are regulated in the UK under laws that include the Tobacco Products Directive 2014 and The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 , in addition to labelling, health and safety, and other legislation. Similar laws are in place across the EU.

Should e-cigarette users take precautions when vaping?

"It is important to remember that it is the battery that vents (explodes) and never the device," the Independent British Vape Association, which is a trade organisation for the UK industry, said in a statement today in response to the Euston explosion.

The organisation offers the following safety advice. More detailed information is available on its website. (

• Always buy from a reputable vendor

• Check that the product or packaging displays the correct CE and ROHS markings and that the distributor can prove their authenticity

• Do not mix a battery from one supplier with a charger from another unless compatibility is specifically confirmed

• Attach the battery to the charger in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions

• Do not charge the battery close to flammable materials

• Always ensure batteries are charged using a suitable power source

• Do not leave a charging battery unattended, and ensure battery and charger connections are always clean

• Never allow your battery to come into contact with metal items such as loose change, or keys in a pocket or bag, as this can result in a short circuit of the battery

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