In a move that it sure to ignite serious debate, the US Navy has announced that it will ban vaping on it’s ships. The ban is scheduled to take effect on May 14 but may be extended for service members currently at sea. The Navy states its reason for the ban to be vaping device batteries which have overheated and exploded. The ban will also apply to naval aircraft.
Rash or Responsible Decision on Vaping?
According to the US Navy, overheated batteries are to blame for explosions of vaping devices. The Navy claims that these incidents have caused harm to sailors and resulted in 77 days of lost work. Among the injuries suffered by sailors who vape are first-degree burns and facial disfigurement. Officials also claim that the explosions have caused fires on board Navy vessels.
While no one can reasonably fault the US Navy for trying to protect its sailors, vessels, and aircraft, some vaping advocates have expressed concern about the ban. Namely, advocates fear that banning vaping will deprive sailors of an effective smoking cessation tool. They argue that the number of injuries from vaping devices is disproportionately small when compared to the serious health issues presented by smoking tobacco.
Even the Navy has admitted that they wish to evaluate more research and data on the safety of e-cigarette devices before reaching a final decision. In the meantime, sailors will have to content themselves with vaping on naval bases in designated areas. Time will ultimately reveal if the Navy’s vaping ban is a rash or responsible decision. In the meantime, looking deeper at the statistics for vaping device malfunctions offers a measure of perspective.
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) April 14, 2017
Are Vaping Devices Unsafe?
There have been isolated incidents involving vaping devices that have malfunctioned. Specifically, the malfunctions are centered around battery venting. In the great majority of reported cases, improper strain has been placed on batteries. Like any power-supplying device, batteries can malfunction when subjected to ill use and heavy loads.
However, a closer look at the reported incidents of battery failure is telling. According to the FDA, there were 137 reported incidents in the six-year period between 2009-2015. In 2016, just 20 incidents were reported. When one compares these numbers with the number of vaping devices and batteries sold each year in the United States, malfunctions occur on a very small scale.
The Navy claims that it received 15 reports of vaping device incidents in a nine-month period between October 2015 and June 2016. If these numbers are accurate, and they are also reported in the FDA figures, one must conclude that incidents aboard Navy vessels are out of proportion with the numbers as a whole.
There can also be no question that the risk of smoking cigarettes far exceeds the risk of using a vaporizer. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 400,000 smoking-related deaths occur each year in the United States. Advocates believe that vaping has a long-term potential to reduce these numbers, and their assertion appears to be upheld by recent studies in the UK.
Implications of the Navy to Ban Vaping
The decision of the US Navy to ban vaping devices on ships and aircraft could have far-reaching implications. Foremost among these is that the decision could set a precedent for other branches of the armed services. It will certainly prompt other military branches to conduct their own assessments on the safety of vaping devices.
Vaping advocates hope that the decision will also encourage more studies on the safety of vaping devices for the civilian populace. At the present time, the number of incidents is so small that there is simply not enough data to make a concrete judgment.
Finally, it seems likely that manufacturers will continue to add in protective measures to their vaping devices. Most mods today offer built-in safety features which are designed to prevent battery venting. These include low-voltage protection, short-circuit protection, and overheating protections. Regardless of where one stands on the issue, it is hard to dispute that manufacturers have taken measures to improve safety.
It is also noteworthy to mention that new battery technology has been developed by pioneers in the industry. It is believed that improvements to battery chemistry and function also have the ability to reduce the number of incidents.
Vaping411.com wishes to conclude by expressing our appreciation for all the men and women who serve in the US military. Your service is appreciated beyond measure, and we extend our continued support and good thoughts to you.