e-cig plane

DOT rule protects air passengers from e-cigarette aerosol

Over the last few years, DOT has issued historic consumer rules protecting the rights of the flying public.  And today, we took one more step toward ensuring better treatment of passengers by finalizing a rule that explicitly bans the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) on commercial flights.

The rule applies to all scheduled flights of U.S. and foreign airlines flying in, to, and from the U.S.

While DOT has viewed its current regulatory smoking ban to be sufficiently broad to include the use of e-cigarettes, the prior rule did not explicitly define “smoking.” We took this action to eliminate any confusion between tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes by applying the same restrictions to both.

The ban protects airline passengers from unwanted exposure to e-cigarette aerosol when electronic cigarettes are used onboard airplanes.  Studies have shown that e-cigarette aerosol can contain a number of harmful chemicals.

This ban will be especially beneficial to vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, and passengers with respiratory issues, who will be protected from unavoidable aerosol exposure within a confined space.

Under this rule, the use of e-cigarettes in all forms –including, but not limited to electronic cigars, pipes, and devices designed to look like everyday products such as pens– is explicitly banned.  The ban does not include the use of medical devices such as nebulizers.

The Department also extended the ban on smoking –including e-cigarettes– to all charter (nonscheduled) flights of U.S. airlines and foreign airlines where a flight attendant is a required crewmember.

In addition to addressing health concerns raised by the use of e-cigarettes, DOT is committed to ensuring they are transported safely on aircraft.  Last October, DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued an interim final rule prohibiting passengers from carrying battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices in checked baggage and prohibiting them from charging these devices or batteries on board aircraft.

To learn more about how DOT is protecting aviation consumers, please read “Fly Rights.”


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