On February this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a final rule that explicitly bans the use of electronic cigarettes on commercial flights. This ruling applies to all scheduled flights of U.S. and foreign carriers involving transportation in, to, and from the U.S. The Department took a practical approach to eliminate any confusion between tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes by applying the same restrictions to both.
The final rule clarifies that the Department’s airline smoking rule prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes and similar products in addition to the existing prohibition on the smoking of tobacco products.
The Department views its current regulatory smoking ban to be broad to include the use of electronic cigarettes. To be clear about it, the Department took this action to eliminate any confusion over whether its ban includes electronic cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes have caused concern because health studies have shown that e-cigarette aerosol can contain a number of harmful chemicals. While more studies are needed to fully understand the risks, the Department believes that a precautionary approach is best. The Department is particularly concerned that children, the elderly, and passengers with respiratory issues would be exposed to the aerosol within a confined space of an aircraft. The ban does not include the use of medical devices such as nebulizers.
The Department also extended the ban on smoking, including electronic cigarettes, to all charter (non-scheduled) flights of U.S. carriers and foreign air carriers where a flight attendant is a required crew member. This change was necessary to implement the Department’s rule with a 2012 statutory amendment that extended the smoking ban to include all flights where a flight attendant is a required crewmember.
The rulemaking is a part of the Department’s broader effort to strengthen airline passenger rights and improve information available to the public. The final rule is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/03/04/2016-04799/use-of-electronic-cigarettes-on-aircraft.
News source: Air Transport News.