A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in September 14's Federal Register proposes a rule which would specify that the airline smoking rule prohibits the use...

The U.S. Department of Transportation is proposing an explicit ban on the use of electronic cigarettes on aircraft.

“Airline passengers have rights, and this new rule would enhance passenger comfort and reduce any confusion surrounding the use of electronic cigarettes in flight,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.


A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in September 14’s Federal Register proposes a rule which would specify that the airline smoking rule prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes and similar products, just as tobacco products are now prohibited. Electronic cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine or other substances to the smoker in the form of a vapor.

The DOT says electronic cigarettes are causing potential concern because there is a lack of scientific data and knowledge of the ingredients in electronic cigarettes. Additionally, the DOT views its current regulatory ban on smoking of tobacco products as being sufficiently broad as to include the use of electronic cigarettes and says it is taking this action to eliminate any confusion over whether the DOT’s ban includes electronic cigarettes.

The proposed rule from the Department of Transportation would apply to all scheduled flights of U.S. and foreign carriers involving transportation to and from the U.S.

Amtrak has banned the use of electronic smoking devices on trains and in any area where smoking is prohibited. The U.S. Air Force Surgeon General issued a memorandum highlighting the safety concerns regarding electronic cigarettes and placed them in the same category as tobacco products. The U.S Navy has banned electronic cigarettes below decks in submarines. Additionally, several states have taken steps to ban either the sale or use of electronic cigarettes.

The DOT’s new NPRM proposes an explicit ban on the use of electronic cigarettes in all forms, including but not limited to electronic cigars, pipes and devices designed to look like everyday products such as pens. The ban does not include the use of a device such as a nebulizer that delivers a medically beneficial substance to a user in the form of a vapor.

The department is also considering whether to extend the ban on smoking, including electronic cigarettes, to charter flights of U.S. carriers and foreign air carriers with aircraft that have a designed seating capacity of 19 or more passenger seats.

According to the DOT, the rulemaking proposed on September 14 is a part of its broader effort to strengthen airline passenger rights and improve information available to the public.

Comments on the NPRM can be submitted to the Federal Docket Management System at www.regulations.gov, Docket ID No. DOT-OST-2011-0044. Public comments will be accepted through November 14, 2011.