FEBRUARY 3, 2017, NORFOLK (NNS) – In response to the Department of Defense tobacco policy updated last year and recent incidents affecting Sailor safety, U.S. Fleet Forces Command and Pacific Fleet announced fleet guidance stating Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), including but not limited to e-cigarettes and vape pens, will be considered tobacco products and fleet commands will align with DoD policies.
In practice, this means Sailors using ENDS will now be required to follow the same regulations and use them in the same places, as if they were using a traditional tobacco product.
In addition to outlining the proper classification for these devices, the message explains associated safety concerns and directs each type commander (TYCOM) to ensure their respective forces have amended their existing tobacco policies to incorporate ENDS and develop specific policy for their platforms and unique mission requirements to reduce the risks associated to U.S. forces.
“Our Sailors work in inherently dangerous environments as compared to the general public,” said Deputy Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, Vice Adm. Richard Breckenridge. “When new commercial technologies are introduced that may be safe in our homes or cars, it is incumbent upon our leadership to minimize the unique risks of these products aboard our ships, submarines, or aircraft.”
With the growth in popularity of ENDS, commands are experiencing an increase in injuries and fires caused by the ENDS’ lithium-ion batteries exploding.
“Our Sailors’ safety is essential to operational readiness,” said Director of Fleet Safety, Capt. Brendan Murphy. “The risk of exploding lithium-ion batteries threatens that readiness.”
Lithium-ion batteries which are used in ENDs are different than batteries used in other electronic devices due to their shape and construction. When the ENDS’ lithium-ion battery is shorted out, over-charged, or damaged due to moisture, impact, or compression, it can overheat and rupture.
The explosion itself causes a high-intensity fire and can catch nearby objects on fire. Additionally, the potential of these devices causing a major fire on ships, submarines, and aircraft could put both people and assets in danger.
TYCOMs will address the use, stowage, charging, and carrying practices related to ENDS and their lithium-ion batteries on ships, aircraft, submarines, expeditionary equipment and vehicles, watchstanders, and personnel actively conducting training and operations.
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Fiorillo, U.S. Fleet Forces Command Public Affairs