September 15, 2011
DOT Proposes Ban On Electronic Cigarettes On Airlines
Despite an existing law prohibiting the use of tobacco products on commercial flights, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering instituting a ban of the use of electronic cigarettes on airplanes, various media outlets reported Thursday.
According to Bart Jansen of USA Today, the proposal was published today in the Federal Register -- "the first step in government regulation," according to the reporter.
"Airline passengers have rights, and this new rule would enhance passenger comfort and reduce any confusion surrounding the use of electronic cigarettes in flight," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, according to A. Pawlowski of CNN.com. The DOT added that they were concerned over the "lack of scientific data and knowledge of the ingredients in electronic cigarettes."
The majority of electronic cigarettes do not actually burn tobacco, which would make them exempt under the existing regulation, despite the similarity of their appearance to actual cigarettes. The devices use a lithium batters to heat a liquid nicotine solution, transforming it into a vapor that is inhaled by the user, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Ray Story, Chief Executive of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, an advocacy group which promotes the devices as an alternative to traditional tobacco-filled cigarettes, told reporters that he believed the proposed ban was unfair. Story claimed that the ban was being supported by tobacco product and smoking cession aid manufacturers.
"Honestly, it's just insane," he said, according to Jansen. "It clearly shows to me that it's motivated by whoever is pulling the biggest purse strings: big tobacco, big pharmaceutical."
In a separate interview with Pawlowski, he said that the electronic cigarettes posed no danger to other passengers on a plane. Story added that the ban would force users of the devices to retreat to the same areas occupied by users of traditional tobacco products, thus forcing them to be exposed to the ill effects of secondhand smoke against their will.
Hugo Martin of the Los Angeles Times reports that the public has until November 14 to submit their comments on the proposed ban. He says that individuals can do so online at http://www.regulations.gov/, and then search using the keyword "electronic cigarettes."
On the Net:
- U.S. Department of Transportation
- Federal Register
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)