Battery Industry Begins Public Safety Campaign against Misuse of Li-Ion Cells in E-Cigarettes

Manufacturers Also Urge Retailers and Government Agencies to Help
Prevent Misuse of 18650 Power Cells in E-cigarettes

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Leading battery manufacturers and industry trade groups have begun a
nationwide consumer awareness campaign called Be-cigarettesafe
that cautions users of e-cigarette and vaping devices of the risks
associated with the misuse of replaceable lithium-ion power cells.

Manufacturers of these cells, commonly known as “18650” cells, never
intended them to be used as stand-alone power sources in e-cigarette and
vaping devices or to be handled directly by consumers as loose,
replaceable power sources. Doing so may put consumers’ safety at risk.

Members of the battery industry have an important warning for
consumers: Don’t use or handle stand-alone 18650 cells, period,” said
George Kerchner, executive director of PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery
Association. “Leading manufacturers have warned consumers for some time
about the risks of handling and misusing stand-alone 18650 cells. We
want to continue educating consumers, which is why we have joined
together in support of the Be-cigarettesafe campaign.
Consumers need to know if they install an 18650 cell to use in their
e-cigarette or vaping device, then it may not be safe.”

18650 lithium-ion battery cells are not intended for use in vaping and
e-cigarette devices – they were designed as a power source for products
such as building tools (drills, saws, etc.), medical devices, laptop
computers, lawnmowers and similar products. These powerful cells are
intended to be handled only by specialized manufacturers who assemble
them in enclosed, safety-circuit protected battery packs or equipment.
Placing a stand-alone 18650 cell in and out of an e-cigarette or vaping
device, or in and out of a charger, can damage the cell’s insulating
wrapper, or cause other internal damage to the cell, leading to a
“thermal runaway” event and emission of flames or gasses from the cell.
But some unauthorized third-parties are disregarding battery
manufacturers’ instructions and selling stand-alone 18650 cells to
consumers for use in e-cigarette and vaping devices. In some cases, the
18650 cells being offered for sale were previously used for other
applications, or “re-wrapped” with inaccurate and misleading labels.

The Be-cigarettesafe campaign was conceived by cell
manufacturers, and supported by PRBA, The Advanced Rechargeable &
Lithium Batteries Association, Korea Battery Industry Association, and
Battery Association of Japan. Be-cigarettesafe is one of
several safety campaigns launched this year to educate consumers on the
safety issues associated with the use, and misuse, of lithium ion
batteries. The campaign includes a series of online and digital display
and video advertisements appearing on various consumer-facing websites
and social media pages. The ads direct users to visit the campaign’s
website, Be-cigarettesafe.org, where consumers can find
information about how to avoid handling and misusing lithium-ion cells
and how to determine if an e-cigarette and vaping device have
non-removable batteries with built-in protection circuitry. The campaign
wants consumers to know that Underwriters Laboratories, a leading global
independent safety science company (UL), has developed a safety standard
for e-cigarettes, and soon consumers will be able to look for the “UL”
mark on e-cigarette and vaping devices to verify that they comply with
UL’s stringent safety standard.

Association members have taken various actions to keep their cells out
of consumers’ hands. These steps include posting warnings on their
products and websites to emphasize 18650 cells are not intended for use
with e-cigarettes and vaping devices, working with third party
purchasers to emphasize proper and improper uses, and sending cease and
desist letters to retailers. Supporters of the campaign have talked with
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC) about these issues and urged these agencies to help
stop the use of stand-alone lithium-ion cells. Part of the campaign will
include sending retailers and vape shops a copy of the PRBA’s “Safety
Policy on the Use and Handling of Stand-alone Cylindrical Lithium ion
Cells,” (http://www.prba.org/wp-content/uploads/PRBA-Policy-on-Use-of-Stand-Alone-Li-ion-Cells-18.pdf),
and directing them to the campaign’s website for additional information.

We need FDA’s help, supported by CPSC, to get stand-alone lithium-ion
cells out of the hands of consumers by using the same enforcement tools
FDA is using to address illegal marketing of e-cigs to minors, and that
CPSC adopted to stop the distribution of poorly designed hoverboard
products that were causing injuries and fires,” said Kerchner. “Leading
cell manufacturer associations all support the need for FDA and CPSC
assistance to help stop the misuse of lithium ion cells and we stand
ready to continue working with these agencies to make this happen.”


for Be-cigarettesafe Campaign
Todd Irons,


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