The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has recently announced their position on the use of electronic cigarettes on airplanes and say that the ban on smoking in the skies includes the popular alternative to tobacco use.
They look and feel like a real cigarette and emit a vapor that is exhaled that resembles smoke to those who may be watching causing confusion and concern in airports, airplanes and public places.
Some even have tips that light up even though they are not lit with a match and do not produce ash. The alternative uses a battery to simulate the smoking experience. Instead of burning traditional tobacco and chemicals e-cigarettes vaporize a liquid nicotine or other flavoring that is tar free and odorless which is then inhaled by the smoker and provides an experience that closely resembles actual smoking.
While some versions of electronic cigarettes do include nicotine many of the brands do not list nicotine on their label of ingredients or contain the thousands of chemicals found in traditional cigarettes, but this hasn't deterred the DOT from issuing a statement that they will officially ban all versions, nicotine and non-nicotine, of the e-cigarettes this spring, according to the AP.
On four recent flights aboard United Airlines and its partners that I flew, which were operated by Colgan Air, Allegiant Airlines and United Express/Mesa Airlines, flights attendants specifically included verbal warnings on use of the electronic cigarettes during flight, and while aboard the planes, in their pre-flight instructions and clearly stated their use by passengers was banned by the airlines along with all other tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco.
The misunderstanding by passengers has become widespread with one recent Allegiant flight from Bangor, Maine interrupted when a passenger, who was using one of the devices "to satisfy his nicotine craving," refused to put the e-cigarette away, prompting the flight to be diverted so federal officials could investigate the incident and question the passengers involved, according to a report in the Bangor Daily News.
The AP reports, "Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, has been informing airlines and the public that it interprets smoking regulations to include e-cigarettes. Lautenberg, who wrote the 1987 law that banned smoking on airplanes, had asked transportation officials to clarify the rule."
"We still don't know the health effects of e-cigarettes, and we don't want to turn airline passengers into laboratory mice," Lautenberg said in an e-mailed statement to the AP.
Lautenberg has fiercely fought the use of e-cigarettes as a smoking alternative or smoking cessation aid and according to a press release from his office, he has written a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting they be taken off the market until they are proven safe by the federal agency.
Sen. Lautenberg's office recently announced the FDA is appealing a federal judge's ruling in the 'Smoking Everywhere' case that the agency does not have the authority to regulate the controversial product.
Digital Journal reported on U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon's ruling and the 32-page opinion in which Leon "sided with electronic cigarette maker Smoking Everywhere Inc. in finding that the FDA has no authority to regulate the products and can't stop them from entering the country."
Lautenberg responded in a press release: “I disagree with the decision in this case and support the FDA's position that electronic cigarettes are drug-device combinations.”