The U.S. Department of Transportation says the use of smokeless electronic cigarettes on airplanes is prohibited and plans to issue an official ban this spring, according to a letter from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood obtained by The Associated Press.
In the letter to Sen. Frank Lautenberg of
, LaHood said the department has been informing
airlines and the public that it interprets smoking regulations to include
e-cigarettes. Lautenberg, who wrote the 1987 law that banned smoking on
airplanes, had asked transportation officials to clarify the rule. New
E-cigarettes are plastic and metal devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution in a disposable cartridge, creating vapor that the "smoker" inhales. A tiny light on the tip even glows like a real cigarette. They have prompted debate over how risky they are and whether they're even legal.
Numerous videos on YouTube show passengers using the devices on airplanes. Lautenberg even said some passengers have interpreted flight attendant instructions to mean that the devices were only prohibited when other electronic devices were not allowed during takeoff and landing.
Many airlines already have begun informing passengers that the devices are not allowed on flights, but Lautenberg said there had been confusion over their use and wanted to make sure officials were solidly opposed to opening the door to e-smoking on planes. Some e-cigarette distributors have touted their convenience because they can be "smoked" anywhere traditional cigarettes are not allowed.
"We still don't know the health effects of e-cigarettes, and we don't want to turn airline passengers into laboratory mice," Lautenberg said in an e-mailed statement.
Jason Healy, president of e-cigarette maker Blu Cigs, called the move somewhat disappointing, but said it isn't the end of the world. Healy said he hopes that once more people understand e-cigarettes and more testing is done, that airlines could choose whether to allow them.
"I understand from an airline's point of view the hassles it could create," said Healy, whose company has partnered with a luxury charter jet company to provide free e-cigs on private flights. "It's not the actual product, it's the disruption and explaining to everyone else that it's not smoke."
Users and distributors say e-cigarettes address both the nicotine addiction and the behavioral aspects of smoking – the holding of the cigarette, the puffing, seeing the smoke come out and the hand motion – without the more than 4,000 chemicals found in cigarettes.
Nearly 46 million Americans smoke cigarettes. About 40 percent try to quit each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But unlike nicotine patches or gums, e-smokes have operated in a legal gray area.
First marketed overseas in 2002, e-cigarettes didn't become easily available in the
2006. Now, the industry has grown from the thousands of users in 2006 to
several million worldwide, with tens of thousands new e-smokers every week. U.S.
The future of e-cigarettes is likely to be decided by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA lost a court case last year after trying to treat e-cigarettes as drug-delivery devices, rather than tobacco products, because e-cigarettes heat nicotine extracted from tobacco.
Sorry Smokers, You Can't Use Electronic Cigarettes On Airplanes
For those who need a regular nicotine fix, the chance to smoke in planes — where stepping outside isn't an option — is a big selling point.
SKYCIG told Business Insider its e-cigarettes "are not covered by the smoking ban so can virtually be used anywhere even when no smoking signs are in place, including planes."
Fueling such claims is lack of clear federal regulation. In February 2011, the AP reported that the Department of Transportation "says the use of smokeless electronic cigarettes is prohibited and plans to issue an official ban."
Hoping to clear things up, we contacted Airlines for
, the country's largest
airline trade association, per the FAA's advice. Their spokesperson
told us simply, "In the absence of definitive governmental guidance,
airlines are deciding this issue individually." America
So we went to the airlines, and finally got a few answers.
Here's the bottom line: No, you can't smoke e-cigarettes in airplanes. At least not in planes operated by large American carriers.
JetBlue says that although electronic cigarettes "may be non-hazardous, JetBlue does NOT allow the USE of them on any of our flights," because the vapor they produce is a "nuisance."
United bans all "simulated smoking materials" are banned, including e-cigs.
Here's American's response: "American Airlines does not allow electronic cigarettes to be used onboard."
Delta's answer was similar: "Delta does not permit the use of electronic cigarettes on board any Delta or Delta Connection aircraft."
In an April 2010 issue of its "Spirit" magazine, Southwest Airlines classified "electronic cigarettes and smoking devices" as "Never Permitted" (via the Global Advisors Smokefree Policy).
Sorry smokers, but if you want to get your fix while in the air, nicotine gum and patches are still your best option.
Are Electronic Cigarettes Legal to Smoke Anywhere?
Tobacco smokers are on a tight rope these days. It seems like just about everyone is trying to keep them from smoking. If you like to smoke cigarettes, not being allowed to smoke in public indoor areas might cause a bit of frustration. Fortunately, a viable alternative that can help to alleviate the anxiety of not being able to smoke whenever you want is the electronic cigarette. Electronic cigarettes have exploded in popularity in the
, mainly because the country
itself has such strict policies on where tobacco cigarettes can be smoked. Are
electronic cigarettes legal? Can they be smoked anywhere? Keep reading. UK
The benefits of electronic cigarettes
Electronic cigarettes are now being marketed heavily throughout most of the developed world. They are useful primarily as an aid to help tobacco smokers lessen their dependence on tobacco smoke. This is because the mist produced by most e-cigarettes contains nicotine which is the addictive element contained in tobacco. As such, electronic cigarettes provide conventional tobacco smokers with the means to get their full fix of nicotine without having to rely on smoking a regular cigarette.
Theoretically, this can help smokers to gradually quit smoking, although it is important to recognise that immediately switching over to electronic cigarettes is unlikely to make you stop smoking immediately.
Naturally, electronic cigarettes bring along with them a number of benefits. To begin with, by smoking electronic cigarettes you will be able to avoid almost of all of the health problems that you could get from continuing to smoke tobacco cigarettes. Tobacco cigarettes have been linked to numerous illnesses and deficiencies, so if you manage to lower your dependence on tobacco cigarettes, you could make a significant investment in your overall long term health.
Secondly, you can save quite a bit of money by choosing to smoke only electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes are much cheaper in the long run than tobacco cigarettes, and this is especially true in countries like the
. You could
save a generous amount of money if you simply tried smoking e cigarettes
whenever you felt the urge to smoke a regular one. UK
Finally, regarding legal issues, you will be happy to know that smoking electronic cigarettes is absolutely legal in the
. You can smoke an electronic
cigarette just about anywhere you want, including indoor commercial
establishments and entertainment establishments like pubs, cafeterias, bars,
and clubs. This is one of the benefits that will be especially attractive to
smokers. Smoking an electronic cigarette in an indoor area instead of stepping
outside for a tobacco cigarette is cheaper, safer for your overall health, and
much more convenient as well. If you need a supporting argument for why you
should consider smoking electronic cigarettes as an alternative to conventional
tobacco filled cigarettes, there you have it. UK
Electronic cigarettes are very safe when compared to tobacco cigarettes and do not contain any of their harmful elements. Furthermore, they are easy to buy, can be smoked just about anywhere 100% legally, and are much cheaper as well. Concerned about safety? Electronic cigarettes are safe. Worried about whether or not you can smoke one in a bar or pub - are electronic cigarettes legal? Yes, you can, and they are. Electronic cigarettes could very well be one of the most relevant anti-tobacco products of our time.
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