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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Cigarette smoking has been banned on U.S. flights for years. Now, electronic cigarettes could get the heave-ho as well.
The Obama Administration yesterday proposed a ban on the use of e-cigarettes on flights, citing a concern they may be harmful to your health. The proposal would apply to all domestic airline flights, as well as any scheduled flights between the United States and any international destination. The U.S. Transportation Department is considering if the e-cigarette ban should extended to charter flights.
"Airline passengers have rights, and this new rule would enhance passenger comfort and reduce any confusion surrounding the use of electronic cigarettes in flight," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.
Many oppose the potential ban, however, claiming nicotine is inhaled via a vapor and poses no health concerns to anyone except the smoker. "Everybody knows that when you are smoking on an airplane, that's an absolute no-no," Ray Story, chief executive of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, told the Associated Press. "But this is not smoking. It's vaping."
Story noted that the Transportation Department is asking for a ban that makes no sense because e-cigarettes "emit nothing. I don't think the masses have been educated enough to know this isn't smoking."
Whether a proposed ban on e-cigarettes is passed or not will likely be based on clarity of what ingredients it contains. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the association offer much different stories on that topic. According to a memorandum issued by the Air Force surgeon general last year, an e-cigarette sample tested by the FDA contained diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze. Additional samples tested contained other cancer-causing agents, the AP reported.
However, the e Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association says on its website that the product contains only nicotine, water, coriander, citric acid and fragrant orchid element.
If passed, airlines would not be the first to ban e-cigarettes usage. Amtrak has banned their use on trains and where smoking is prohibited, according to the AP report. The U.S. Navy also has banned e-cigarettes below decks in submarines.
E-cigarettes were first marketed in 2002 and became readily available in the United States in 2006.