The men and women serving in the military have stressful jobs, and they all need to find ways to decompress. But if you’re a member of the Navy it looks like one of your recreational activities is off-limits, at least temporarily.
Bad news smokers: the Navy has banned vaping. Vaping on United States military ships and equipment has been problematic enough for concerns to make their way to the top of the naval totem pole. As of May 14, sailors will be banned from vaping on ships, subs, planes, boats, and all other official naval equipment.
The commanders of the U.S. Fleet Forces and U.S. Pacific Fleet provided a statement detailing the justification for the decision, saying, “The Fleet commanders implemented this policy to protect the safety and welfare of Sailors and to protect the ships, submarines, aircraft and equipment.”
If you’re immersed in Navy culture, this has been a topic of great debate for some time. The Naval Safety Center called e-cigarettes a “significant and unacceptable risk” in 2016, following a series of accidents involving the devices, and a memo from the Navy revealed at least 15 incidents —referred to officially as “mishaps”— in a span of eight months. In comparison to other lithium-ion devices, the Naval Safety Center pegged e-cigarettes in a class of their own because of their propensity to explode when dropped.
Some of the incidents are almost too crazy to be believed. In one issue of the Naval magazine Sea Compass, a story was shared of an incident with an e-cigarette that caused the total destruction of a car and first-degree burns on one of the passengers. It concluded with this passage:
This dramatically increases the risk of an explosion and a fire with disastrous consequences. All it takes is for one careless Sailor to mishandle a lithium ion battery, or to buy a cheap battery for their vape, and a statistically rare event can become a reality.
The higher-ups in the Navy looked at incidents like these and decided it was time to take the decision out of the hands of their sailors. They claim the ban will “remain in effect until a final determination can be made following a thorough analysis.”
Sailors will still be allowed to smoke real cigarettes in the designated smoke deck area, so smoking hasn’t been totally eliminated. But if vaping is near and dear to your heart, don’t enlist in the Navy any time soon.