Published on April 17th, 2017 | by Jimmy Hafrey
Sailors will soon have to make vaping a landfall activity.
Digital Trends is reporting that the Navy has banned all Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, also known as ENDS, from all ships, submarines, aircraft, boats, and heavy equipment. This ban, which will be put into place on May 14, will apply to sailors, Marines, Military Sealift Command civilians, and even private citizens who are visiting naval crafts.
The Navy released an official statement last week that Jezebel is reporting will impact sailors 30 days from the policy release date. The announcement reads in part:
“The Fleet commanders implemented this policy to protect the safety and welfare of Sailors and to protect the ships, submarines, aircraft, and equipment. The prohibition will be effective 30 days from the release of the policy May 14, and will remain in effect until a final determination can be made following a thorough analysis.”
The ban comes after a four-month period in late 2015 and early 2016 when there were 15 reported incidents on Navy aircraft and naval craft that involved vape mods. This included at least two reports that listed firefighting equipment as a necessity and one that forced a naval aircraft to cut its flight short after the device started smoking up the cockpit. An additional two reports are cited on Engadget as being incidents in which the power source of the mod exploded while being used by sailors.
Vape mods are powered by lithium-ion batteries and can be temperamental, depending on how one uses the battery and how well they maintain the devices that use it as a power source. In the vape community, a few rules apply to these power sources, including that they must be replaced at least twice a year, never used when the wrapping has come undone, and never charged past capacity.
It’s important to keep in mind that many vape users DIY their own vape mods; this is because the mod is literally a tank, a power source, and a heating element. But creating a vape mod is more difficult than most people realize, and so it should only be attempted by those who understand how the facets of the device work. Many devices also use more than one battery, increasing the chances of an explosion or other disasters, and therefore are not recommended for use on the job or anywhere else other than home.
The ban is temporary, according to the Navy, and Time has reported that the commanders say that the policy is only put in place until more research on the health and safety aspects of vaping becomes available. However, if the Navy is taking its cue from the FDA, which already has restricted the vape industry to near-extinction, it may very well permanently ban vape products from its bases as well as naval craft and aircraft.
The above set of incidents are cited as the catalyst for the policy change; however, questions ought to be raised about why it took the Navy over a year to draft and publish the changes. If the inciting incidents took place in January of 2016, why wait until April of 2017 to change the rules?
The prohibition of vape mods shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone in the vape industry; after all, the FDA handed down its deeming regulation on vape products less than a year ago, which was quickly followed up by having the FAA ban the use of the devices on flights. However, what might be a little more surprising is that while ENDS and vape mods are banned from aircraft and naval craft, smoking is still allowed in designated areas.
It may seem logical that banning electronic devices, like vape mods, and not cigarettes, makes sense, but a closer look is needed: although lithium-ion batteries can explode, the vape industry is taking measures to protect consumers by developing safer mods and calling for stronger regulations of the batteries. Meanwhile, cigarettes are consumed by using fire as a combustible, which could be as equally dangerous around naval equipment.
The ban is still temporary and will give sailors 30 days from the date the policy is released on May 14 to quit using vape products while on vessels and aircraft. Certain sailors may file for an extension of the ban to take effect for them when they next make landfall.
To date, this is the only branch of the military that has imposed vaping restrictions on its members; the Army, Airforce, and Marines all have yet to weigh in on the issue. It is possible, however, that the recent decision by the Navy to impose the ban might have an effect on the other branches, which could lead to a military-wide ban on vape devices while at work.
The Navy isn’t giving up on smokers struggling to quit; it is providing resources and programs for sailors who vape as a smoking cessation method. These methods are provided by medical services and the Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention agency.
Unfortunately for sailors, smoking cessations methods that are currently provided for by the Navy have less than a 30 percent rate of success six months after quitting. This includes both nicotine gum, which is sold over the counter, and medications like Chantix. Going “cold turkey” with counseling, which the Navy also supports, has a success rate of less than ten percent, although a campaign is currently being waged to convince the American people that it has a high rate of success.
Meanwhile, vaping is reported to be responsible for 6.1 million people across Europe quitting smoking successfully; another 9.1 million Europeans are currently using vaping to quit. Even Public Health England, a governing UK body, has supported vaping as a smoking cessation method that is safe and 95 percent less dangerous than smoking traditional cigarettes.
The Navy has the authority to choose a course of action that will help their sailors, something that this publication appreciates and respects. The ban on navy ships and other vessels will help keep military members safe. However, it is hope of this writer that the Navy does a sound investigation into the advancement of vape mod technology and will come to a reasonable conclusion when it reviews the temporary ban in the near future.