Smoking of Electronic Cigarettes on Aircraft

The Department of Transportation is proposing to amend its existing airline smoking rule to explicitly ban the use of electronic cigarettes on all aircraft in scheduled passenger interstate, intrastate and foreign air transportation. The Department is taking this action because of the increased promotion of electronic cigarettes and the potential health and passenger comfort concerns that they pose in an aircraft. The Department is also considering whether to extend the ban on smoking (including electronic cigarettes) to charter flights of air carriers (i.e. U.S. carriers) and foreign air carriers with aircraft that have a designed seating capacity of 19 or more passenger seats.

Gamucci electronic cigarette

Gamucci electronic cigarette

Electronic cigarettes were introduced into the market in recent years. Because of the increasing promotion and availability of electronic cigarettes the issue has been raised as to whether the statutory ban on smoking in section 41706 and existing regulatory prohibition on the smoking of tobacco products in part 252 apply to electronic cigarettes. The Department views the statutory and regulatory ban on smoking to be sufficiently broad to include the use of electronic cigarettes.

Studies show thousands of people use electronic cigarettes daily, and the products generate an estimated $100 million annually in sales. Some are marketed as being permissible in places where cigarette use is prohibited.

Some electronic cigarette companies have claimed that their products are safe because they reportedly do not contain carcinogens or tar or produce second-hand smoke, as there is no combustion in their use. According to these arguments, while the vapor looks and feels, and may taste, like smoke produced by burning traditional tobacco products, its chemistry differs from the smoke produced from burning conventional tobacco products. The principal liquid ingredient is propylene glycol, which is widely used as a moistening food additive and an aid to vaporization. However, some research, conducted on non-asthmatic people, has shown that exposure to propylene glycol mist from artificial smoke generators may cause acute ocular and upper airway irritation, and in a few cases people reacted with cough and slight airway obstruction.

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