Air Federal agencies

DOT bans e-cigarettes on flights

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Photo: Marccophoto/iStockphoto

Washington – The Department of Transportation has made itself clear about the use of electronic cigarettes on airplanes: It’s not allowed.

DOT announced a final rule March 2 that explicitly prohibits the use of the products, often called e-cigarettes, during commercial flights. The rule will apply to all domestic and international flights that travel in, to and from the United States. As of press time, the rule had yet to be published in the Federal Register.

In a press release, DOT officials said the agency’s current smoking ban seemed “sufficiently broad” to include e-cigarettes. But the previous rule did not explicitly define “smoking,” and DOT did not want to leave any room for confusion about the use of e-cigarettes on aircraft.

Studies have shown that aerosol from e-cigarettes contains a variety of harmful chemicals. Although more research is needed to understand the risks of e-cigarettes, DOT stated, a precautionary approach is important to protect passengers in the confined space of an aircraft with no chance to avoid the chemicals. Of particular concern to DOT are children, the elderly and passengers with respiratory difficulties.

“This final rule is important because it protects airline passengers from unwanted exposure to aerosol fumes that occur when electronic cigarettes are used onboard airplanes,” Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said in a press release. “The Department took a practical approach to eliminate any confusion between tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes by applying the same restrictions to both.”

To view the final rule, visit www.regulations.gov and enter docket No. DOT-OST-2011-0044.

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