PhotoSince their introduction, e-cigarettes have been extremely popular as a tobacco alternative, but health officials insist there remain unanswered questions about their effect on health.

Maybe they ought to be more focused on safety.

E-cigarettes are basically electronic devices. A battery provides the heat to vaporize a liquid containing nicotine. Users inhale the vapor, getting much the same nicotine they would from a cigarette.

But as we know from smartphones and other electronic devices, sometimes batteries can overheat and even explode. Earlier this month it was caught on surveillance cameras at a New Jersey mall.

A shopper, Mara McInerney of Matawan, N.J., was at the counter of a Sunglasses Hut in the Freehold Raceway Mall when her purse suddenly exploded. You can watch the dramatic footage below.

Total loss

McInerney wasn't hurt, but she said the contents of her expensive purse, along with the purse, were a total loss. This isn't the first time an e-cigarette has exploded, but it is the first time that it's been caught on tape.

As we reported in May, an Albany, N.Y., man said he was “vaping” when his e-cigarette exploded in his mouth, knocking him to the ground. Kenneth Barbaro was hospitalized with burns to his hands, knocked-out teeth, and a injuries to his tongue.

That same month, the U.S. Transportation Department issued a final rule, banning e-cigarettes from checked bags aboard aircraft.

“Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous, and a number of recent incidents have shown that e-cigarettes in checked bags can catch fire during transport,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at the time.

The Federal Aviation Administration has since issued a similar ban on the Samsung Note 7 smartphone, which has suffered a number of high profile fires and explosions.

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