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Navy tells sailors to stop vaping at sea

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Indefinite ban until further notice

Photograph by Ecig Click (Flickr CC BY 2.0)

The Navy is banning all electronic cigarettes and vaping devices from its aircraft, ships, boats, and submarines after a string of incidents caused physical injuries to sailors. The Naval Safety Center reports that at least 15 “mishaps” occurred between October 2015 and June 2016, which resulted in sailors’ first- and second-degree burns and facial disfiguration from e-cigarette battery explosions.

"Nine of 15 reported incidents described the failure mechanism as explosive... Two battery explosions occurred with the electronic cigarette in the service member's mouth resulting in facial and dental injuries," The Naval Safety Center wrote in a memo last August, following an investigation that recommended a full ban of vaporizer devices on Navy property by the US Fleet Forces. "These devices pose a significant and unacceptable risk to Navy personnel, facilities, submarines, ships, vessels and aircraft.”

The US Department of Transportation similarly banned vaporizers from aircrafts last year, though it did so to prevent passengers from "unwanted exposure to aerosol fumes."

The Navy’s ban on e-cigarettes will begin on May 14 and is expected to remain in effect until a final determination on the policy can be made. Sailors who are currently deployed will be asked to remove batteries from their e-cigarette devices and store them in non-conductive containers. Use of such devices will be allowed on shore at designated smoking areas.