EAST CHINA SEA (NNS) -- For centuries, smoke has drifted freely through passageways, clouding compartments and common areas of U.S. Navy ships abroad. It wasn't until recent decades that change has brought smoke, and smokers, to more centralized locations called "smoke decks" or "smoke pits."
In 2014, the Navy is introducing a new type of smoke deck, and the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) has joined in on the change.
In July 2014, George Washington became one of the first aircraft carriers to have an electronic-cigarette, or "E-cigarette"-only smoke deck.
The decision to open an E-cigarette smoke deck was not done on a whim. Prior to its opening, research was conducted to find out if there was a need and desire for such a thing.
This new smoke deck gives Sailors an outlet to escape from the ashes and smoke of traditional smoke pits, and allows them to more easily make a transition to the E-cigarette.
For Sailors like Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Third Class Zachary Dixon, using the E-cigarette has been a vital steppingstone in moving away from regular cigarettes. Now that there's a designated E-cigarette smoke deck, Sailors like Dixon can enjoy the benefits of having a smoke-free zone, while still maintaining the same sociable atmosphere.
This doesn't mean that E-cigarette users are confined strictly to the E-cigarette smoke deck, they can still use their devices at regular smoke decks aboard the ship.
George Washington's standpoint on tobacco and nicotine usage is to neither promote nor immediately eliminate it, but rather to help Sailors to be as mission-ready, and maintain professional working environments and clean living spaces.
Looking to the future, it seems likely that the rest of the aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy will follow suit with this E-cigarette smoke deck adaptation.