The United States Navy is banning electronic cigarettes and vapourizers from its aircraft, ships and submarines after several reports of the devices' batteries exploding, catching fire and injuring sailors.
The malfunctioning devices have forced at least one aircraft to land, started fires on ships and left sailors with second-degree burns and disfigured faces. The injuries have happened when the devices were being used, charged or replaced, or when they came into accidental contact with metal objects, according to the Navy.
The directive by US Fleet Forces Command and US Pacific Fleet will take effect from May 14 and comes as the e-cigarette industry faces increasing scrutiny over the safety of its products.
The US Department of Transportation last year prohibited airline passengers and crew members from carrying battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices in checked baggage and from using or charging the devices aboard aircraft.
The US Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products identified 137 reported incidents of e-cigarette overheating, fires and explosions from 2009 to 2015. The FDA received 20 reports of e-cigarettes overheating, fires and explosions in 2016.
The American Vaping Association, which touts the benefits of vapour products for public health, criticised the Navy's move.
Association president Gregory Conley said: "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, like cellphones or laptops."
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There have been cases of mobile phones and laptops catching fire on passenger planes and a new invention called an AvSax has been deployed to deal with the danger quickly and effectively. They are now on board several major US carriers.