DOT Final Rule Bans E-cigarettes From Commercial Flights

The rule applies to all scheduled flights of U.S. and foreign airlines flying in, to, and from the United States, the agency announced. DOT also extended the ban on e-cigarettes to all charter (nonscheduled) flights of U.S. airlines and foreign airlines where a flight attendant is a required crewmember.

The U.S. Department of Transportation on March 2 finalized a rule that bans the use of electronic cigarettes on commercial flights. The rule applies to all scheduled flights of U.S. and foreign airlines flying in, to, and from the United States, the agency announced.

DOT's announcement said the agency considered its current regulatory smoking ban was broad enough to include the use of e-cigarettes, but that rule did not explicitly define "smoking." So DOT took the March 2 action to eliminate any confusion between tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes by applying the same restrictions to both of them.

"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," the announcement stated. "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."

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

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