Earlier this month, the US National Park Service proposed a ban on vaping in the National Parks. The rule would have expanded the ban on smoking in designated areas to include electronic cigarettes. Today, folks at the NPS had a change of heart. But the agency won’t tell us why.
The NPS quietly removed the proposed ban with a notice in the Federal Register today. The original proposal, first published on January 6th, was supposed to be available for public comment for 60 days.
“The proposal was opened, earlier this month, for 60 days comment,” NPS spokesperson Jeffrey Olson told Gizmodo over email. “The withdrawal is based upon a need to engage in additional interagency coordination and review of the proposal.”
What does “a need to engage in additional interagency coordination and review of the proposal” mean? That remains unclear, and the NPS won’t elaborate.
The National Park Service originally started to restrict smoking in designated areas of the parks in 1983 and updated the rules in 2003 to reflect modern concerns about secondhand smoke.
“Non-smokers are exposed to nicotine and other potentially harmful components of [electronic cigarette] vapor at higher than background levels when passively exposed to second hand vapor,” the Park Service said in its original proposal.
Aside from second-hand vapor, the NPS also noted that while explosions were rare, they sometimes happened. And if you’re a regular reader of Gizmodo, you’ve seen the GIFs and horrifying photos to prove it.
“Between 2009 and August 2014, 25 incidents of explosion and fire involving e-cigarettes were reported in the US,” the proposal said. “Most of the incidents occurred while the battery was charging, but serious burn injuries were also reported from explosions when the device was in the user’s mouth.”
So again, why is the NPS withdrawing the proposal to ban vapes in the parks? We have no idea. But it seems safe to assume based on the NPS comment that there’s some kind of infighting going on over at the Park Service.
Vape ‘em if you got ‘em, I guess. For now, at least.