Health

BANNED: Feds War On E-Cigarettes Hits Airline Passengers

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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The government banned e-cigarettes in checked luggage at airports, and vapers will no longer be allowed to charge their devices on the flight.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued the interim final rule Monday and it will go into effect in two weeks. The reasoning behind the ban is that battery powered e-cigarettes can occasionally overheat or even explode and start fires that pose a risk to passengers.

DOT used an example from Boston’s Logan Airport Aug. 9, 2014, when an e-cigarette in a passenger’s checked bag started a fire that resulted in a plane’s evacuation to demonstrate the need for the ban.

But there are relatively few similar incidents the department can use to back up its case, with only 26 such incidents recorded in the past six years.

The new ban won’t cover passengers who put other devices containing batteries like laptops in their checked or carry-on baggage. “We know from recent incidents that e-cigarettes in checked bags can catch fire during transport,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

“Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous. Banning e-cigarettes from checked bags is a prudent safety measure,” he added.

Passengers will still be allowed to carry e-cigarettes for personal use in carry-on baggage or on their person. Travelers and crew members are not allowed to vape on flights. The ban is just the latest in a series of government measures tightening the regulatory environment for e-cigarette users.

The National Park Service dealt a blow to vapers Sept. 15 with a ban on the use of e-cigarettes wherever regular tobacco is banned in national parks. The new rule means e-cigs bans in park vehicles and indoor sites such as buildings and caves and will apply to all 408 national parks.

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Guy Bentley