By Debbie Gregory.
The Navy has banned electronic cigarettes and vaping devices throughout the fleet. The Navy cited concerns that the battery-powered gadgets can explode and injure sailors.
The new rule “suspends the use, possession, storage, and charging of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems aboard ships, submarines, aircraft, boats, craft and heavy equipment,” according to a Navy press release.
“The prohibition applies to Sailors, Marines, Military Sealift Command civilians and any personnel working on or visiting those units.”
“This new policy is in response to continued reports of explosions of electronic nicotine delivery devices due to the overheating of lithium-ion batteries,” the release said.
The malfunctioning devices have forced at least one aircraft to land, started fires on ships and left sailors with second-degree burns and disfigured faces. According to the Navy, these injuries occurred when the devices were being used, charged or replaced, or when they came into inadvertent contact with metal objects.
In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received twenty reports of e-cigarette overheating, fires and explosions.
“Based on the experience of other FDA-regulated products, it is important to note that adverse experience reporting received is an underestimate of actual events,” FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum said.
The Navy’s ban prohibits uniformed personnel and civilians from using, possessing, storing and charging the devices. It will remain in effect while the Navy conducts a more thorough analysis on the devices, although Fleet Forces spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Stephanie Turo stated that there is not a timeline for any permanent decision.
The Navy reported fifteen incidents between October 2015 and June 2016 where fires were started or personnel were injured because of these devices, according to the Naval Safety Center. It’s unclear if the FDA figures include statistics from the Navy. The issue of overheating batteries has been one that E-Cigarette makers have tracked closely,
Some manufactures claim that approximately eighty percent of these cases of battery overheating occurs when the device is charged incorrectly or with a different charger that the manufacturer intended.
The Navy is encouraging sailors to use tobacco-cessation programs that it offers. However, some vaping advocates fear the Navy is taking away a useful tool.
Sailors on shore still will be allowed to use the devices on Navy bases, but only in designated smoking areas.
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