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US Navy Ban Vapes On Vessels

American navy sailors instructed to leave all vape devices on the mainland.

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From the 14th May, the United States Navy will ban all vape products from being carried onto its vessels. Sailors will be allowed to still vape on their bases for the time being but the future for vaping as a harm reduction tool looks bleak.

A statement on behalf of the commanders of the United States Fleet Forces and the United States Pacific Fleet states: “The prohibition applies to Sailors, Marines, Military Sealift Command civilians and any personnel working on or visiting those units. The Fleet commanders implemented this policy to protect the safety and welfare of Sailors and to protect the ships, submarines, aircraft and equipment.”

The action stops short of the full ban demanded in a memo at the end of last year, covered here on POTV. The memo advising a vape ban read: “These devices pose a significant and unacceptable risk to Navy personnel, facilities, submarines, ships, vessels and aircraft. It is strongly recommended that action be taken to prohibit these devices from use, transport, or storage on Navy facilities, submarines, ships, vessels, and aircraft. In conjunction with these efforts, it is recommended that the Navy launch a dedicated safety campaign to inform service members about the potential danger of these products.” 

The push for action to prohibit vaping centres on a memorandum produced for senior officers. In it, it is claimed that fifteen incidents occurred between October 2015 and June 2016, an excerpt is shown in the image below. Incidents include explosions at sea and in the air, involving burns and facial damage to naval personnel.

Some confusion exists as articles related to incidents detail malfunctions occurring in a sailor’s car and carries the quote: “Imagine what would have happened if the batteries had exploded while in their home, the barracks or even onboard their ship. The loss of property and potential loss of life could have been catastrophic.”

The American Vaping Association criticised the Navy's decision: “When used and charged properly, vapour products pose no more of a fire risk than any other product that is powered by lithium-ion batteries. It is a shame that the Navy made this move without consulting active duty personnel or consumer advocates, as there are many ways this issue could have been addressed without resorting to a blanket prohibition that will only serve to discourage current tobacco users from quitting."

An executive director of the non-profit Vape A Vet Project is quoted as saying: “By banning ENDS products it forces sailors to maintain their harmful smoking habit, which causes greater harm, destruction, and death when compared to the rare battery incident. We are more than happy to provide any and all assistance necessary to allow our sailors to continue using this far safer alternative to smoking deadly cigarettes, improve their lives, health and combat readiness, and save the government time and money.”

It will surprise few people if the Navy goes on to announce a full ban on vaping.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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