The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a final rule prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes on commercial flights—both on domestic and foreign airlines flying to, from and within the United States.
According to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, “This final rule is important because it protects airline passengers from unwanted exposure to electronic cigarette aerosol that occurs when electronic cigarettes are used onboard airplanes.”
Eliminating any confusion over use of e-cigarettes on commercial flights
Smoking of cigarettes and other tobacco products in commercial flights has long been prohibited by the Transportation Department. The agency included e-cigarettes to make its airline smoking rule clear.
Sec. Foxx said the agency “took a practical approach to eliminate any confusion between tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes by applying the same restrictions on both products.”
Passengers can bring e-cigarettes in carry-on baggage or on their person, but they are not allowed to charge its batteries or use it during the flight. It is not allowed in checked-in baggage. The Transportation Department made clarifications to regulation on airline smoking after e-cigarettes set a fire in suitcase.
Lithium batteries normally power e-cigarettes. There is a possibility for the e-cigarette to self-ignite if it is defective or exposed to excessive temperature. There had been numerous reports regarding e-cigarette explosions. Two incidents were reported last month—one in Naples, Florida and another in Owensboro, Kentucky.
Best to implement precautionary measures
The Hawaiian Airlines reported that one of its flights was forced to make an emergency landing earlier this year because there was an e-cigarette on a checked bag, which prompted the captain to activate the fire suppression system of the plane.
The Transportation Department explained that e-cigarettes caused concern because studies found harmful chemicals in the product. The agency said it is best to implement precautionary even if further study is necessary to understand the risks related to e-cigarettes.
The agency is particularly concerned with vulnerable populations including children, the elderly and passengers with respiratory problems as they would be exposed to e-cigarettes aerosol within a confined space, and will not be available to avoid the chemicals.