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Transportation Department Moves to Ban E-Cigarettes on All Flights

All use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices could soon be banned on all commercial flights, including private charter flights. In a new notice or proposed rulemaking, the Transportation Department is suggesting the devices be formally banned due to “potential health and passenger comfort concerns.”

Vaping devices and e-cigarettes could ultimately be banned across air travel in the United States if a new U.S. Department of Transportation rule comes into effect. Published in the Federal Register, the agency announced a new notice of proposed rulemaking on electronic smoking devices on all commercial flights.

New Regulation Seeks to Close Loophole for E-Cigarettes

The formal ban on smoking aboard commercial aircraft was passed on 2000, as part of the Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act. Since then, e-cigarettes and vaping devices have been introduced as another way to consume tobacco and liquid nicotine products.

While these devices are already banned on most commercial flights, federal law does not specifically prohibit the use of e-cigarettes aboard commercial flights. The new proposed rule would amend the current smoking prohibition to include these electronic devices. Closing this loophole would make it against federal law to use them at 35,000 feet at a time where vaping aboard flights is becoming more common. In addition, several celebrities were reported as caught using e-cigarettes on flights, including professional wrestler Eric Arndt and actors Johnathan Rhys Meyers and Dennis Quaid.

“The purpose behind the statutory ban on smoking aboard aircraft and the regulatory ban in part 252 on smoking tobacco products was to improve air quality within the aircraft, reduce the risk of adverse health effects on passengers and crewmembers, and enhance aviation safety and passenger comfort,” reads the DOT proposal. “We are unaware of sufficient studies on the health impact on third parties from these vapors to conclude that they would not negatively impact the air quality within the aircraft and/or increase the risk of adverse health effects on passengers and crewmembers.”

If it becomes a federal rule, it will follow other regulations for use of vaping devices in confined spaces. Amtrak rules currently ban the use of e-cigarettes in places where smoking is prohibited, and the U.S. Navy does not allow vaping below deck aboard submarines. The rule would apply to all commercial flights, including charter flights operated by U.S. air carriers and potentially foreign carriers flying into the country.

Airlines Already Ban E-Cigarette Use in Cabin and Packing in Checked Luggage

While the rule would formally close a gap, most airlines already prohibit the use of e-cigarettes aboard flights. All three major U.S. carriers – American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, all prohibit the use of vaping devices on flights. Furthermore, all carriers do not allow flyers to pack e-cigarettes or vaping devices in checked luggage if they are powered by a lithium battery.

aresef October 17, 2021

I didn't even realize they weren't covered by existing rules. Every safety briefing I've heard in recent years mentions e-cigs when going over the no-smoking policy.

Bradhattan October 3, 2021

Ok nay sayers, just wait until we come after your disgusting habits, like bare feet on bulkheads....your sourdough starter is sicking me out, not to mention your jagged shoe scum toenails....hmmmm smoking/vapings sounds quite regal compated to the great unwashed!

Cedar Jet October 2, 2021

Awesome. Filthy habit.

rylan October 1, 2021

Good, it should be officially banned on flights, but its not going to do anything to change what is already occurring. I've seen and had the 'pleasure' of sitting next to a pax who was sneak-vaping on a flight.

John Aldeborgh October 1, 2021

Vaping is basically odorless and I’ve yet to see any health risks associated with it. I’d much rather sit next to someone who vapes than someone with poor hygiene or someone obese.