The U.S. Department of Transportation explicitly banned the use of electronic cigarettes on commercial flights traveling to and from the United States.
The move clarifies an existing rule that bans the smoking of tobacco products on flights.
“This final rule is important because it protects airline passengers from unwanted exposure to aerosol fumes that occur when electronic cigarettes are used onboard airplanes,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.
“The department took a practical approach to eliminate any confusion between tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes by applying the same restrictions to both.”
The rule bans all forms of e-cigarettes, including cigars and pipes.
The DOT opted to ban e-cigarettes for passenger safety because it said studies have shown that e-cigarette aerosol contains harmful chemicals, including carcinogens.
“The department is particularly concerned that vulnerable populations (such as children, the elderly, and passengers with respiratory issues) would be exposed to the aerosol within a confined space, without the opportunity to avoid the chemicals,” the DOT said.
“While further study is needed to fully understand the risks, the department believes that a precautionary approach is best.”
In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not yet regulate e-cigarettes, so the amount of nicotine and chemicals in them is unclear. However, the FDA has proposed a rule that would give it authority over tobacco products like e-cigarettes.