Department of Transportation Proposes Rule to Ban Electronic Cigarettes on Planes

The U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed a rule that would ban smoking electronic cigarettes on all domestic and international commercial flights.

Under current federal law, passengers cannot smoke any tobacco product on a commercial flight, but electronic cigarettes are not specifically cited, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Airline passengers have rights, and this new rule would enhance passenger comfort and reduce any confusion surrounding the use of electronic cigarettes in flight,” Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. He added the Department is also considering extending the ban on smoking—including electronic cigarettes—to charter flights of U.S. carriers and foreign air carriers with planes that seat 19 or more passengers.

Electronic cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine in the form of a vapor, which is inhaled by the user. They usually have a rechargeable, battery-operated heating element, a replaceable cartridge with nicotine or other chemicals and a device called an atomizer that converts the contents of the cartridge into a vapor when heated. They are often made to look like regular cigarettes.

The Department noted there is a lack of scientific data about the ingredients in electronic cigarettes. The public can comment on the proposed rule until November 14; search for the keywords “electronic cigarettes” to find the proposal.

In April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it will regulate smokeless electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, treating them the same as traditional cigarettes. The FDA said it will not try to regulate e-cigarettes under stricter rules for drug-delivery devices.