electronic cigarettes
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

SCHOFIELD Barracks, Hawaii (Feb. 21, 2014) -- Don?'t forget where your smoking area is located just yet. A recent garrison policy memo places the same restrictions as cigarettes on electronic cigarettes.

All personnel aboard U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii installations must follow existing tobacco regulations on electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs.

Garrison installations include Schofield Barracks, Fort Shafter, Wheeler Army Airfield, Helemano and Aliamanu military reservations, Fort DeRussy and Kilauea Military Camp on Hawaii.

Policy Memorandum USAG-HI-65 has been released and places the same restrictions on e-cigs as tobacco. It states tobacco and e-cigs are ?"prohibited in all DA (Department of the Army)-occupied workplaces, except for designated smoking areas," per Army Regulation 600-63, para. 7-3a. A workplace, it says, ?"includes any area inside a building or facility … where work is performed by military personnel, civilians or persons under contract to the Army."

The AR (para. 7-2a) reminds personnel that ?"using tobacco products … harms readiness by impairing physical fitness and by increasing illness, absenteeism, premature death, and health care costs." It states ?"readiness will be enhanced by promoting the standard of a tobacco-free environment that supports abstinence from, and discourages the use of any tobacco product."

?"This further defines consistent policy that regulates behavior to provide an environment reflecting good order and discipline within our Army community and the workplace," said Lt. Col. Kenneth Sanderson, executive officer, USAG-HI.

E-cigs are being presented as a healthier way to smoke; however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has prohibited manufacturers from making health claims. The FDA has not approved e-cigs as a tobacco cessation device.

?"There may be evidence to indicate that e-cigs are less harmful than smoking a pack of regular cigarettes," said Pamela Jinnohara of the Directorate of Human Resource?'s Army Substance Abuse Program. ?"However, due to lack of regulatory oversight and the presence of nicotine … the Center for Disease Control has issued warnings.

?"The World Health Organization strongly advises against the use of e-cigarettes until reputable studies are completed and find them safe," Jinnohara added.

?"This policy supports behaviors that are respectful to those around us while protecting the individual rights and choices of all people," said Howard Johnston, deputy garrison commander, USAG-HI.

Service members who violate e-cig policy are subject to punishment under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. All others may be punished by administrative actions, debarment from installations and other prosecution.