Friday, February 11, 2011

Electronic Cigarettes Banned from U.S. Flights

electronic cigaretteYou've heard of those new electronic cigarettes, right? Well, if you haven't, let me give you a brief rundown. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, are battery-powered devices that provide inhaled doses of a nicotine or non-nicotine vaporized solution. Basically, you get all the addiction and feel of smoking a real cigarette without having to buy more and without all those nasty extras. They do not create second-hand smoke, or any smoke for that matter, making them virtually harmless to other people.

However, that hasn't stopped the U.S. Department of Transportation from saying that the use of smokeless, electronic cigarettes is prohibited on airplanes. The U.S. Department of Transportation is also planning on issuing a ban on them starting in the spring according to a letter from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. In the letter LaHood stated that the department has been informing airlines, as well as the public, the it interprets smoking regulations to include e-cigs. Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, the person LaHood's letter was written to, created the 1987 law banning smoking on airplanes and has asked that transportation officials clarify the rule.

There are a number of videos on YouTube showing passengers on flights using the e-cigs. Lautenberg has even said that some passengers have interpreted flight attendant instructions to mean that the e-cigs were only prohibited when other electronic devices were not allowed to be active during takeoff and landing. A lot of airlines have already begun informing passengers that the e-cigs are not allowed on flights, however, Lautenberg said there has been confusion over their use and wanted to make sure that officials were solidly opposed to opening the door to e-smoking on planes.

According to an e-mailed statement from Lautenberg, "We still don't know the health effects of e-cigarettes, and we don't want to turn airline passengers into laboratory mice."

Users, as well as distributors, have said the e-cigs address both the nicotine addiction and the behavioral aspects of smoking - the holding of the cigarette, the puffing, seeing the smoke come out and the hand motion - without the more than 4,000 chemicals found in cigarettes. Almost 46 million Americans smoke cigarettes and nearly 40% try to quit each and every year according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. However, unlike nicotine patches or gum, e-smokers have operated in a legal gray area. E-cigs did not become easily available in the United States until late in 2006 and the industry has grown from the thousands of users that were evident in 2006 to the several million worldwide there are today.

E-cigs' future will most likely lie with the FDA, who lost a court case last year after trying to treat e-cigs like a drug-delivery device as opposed to a cigarette due to the fact that the device heats up nicotine extracted from tobacco. What do you think? Are e-cigs safe for people around them? Should they be banned from being used while on an airplane? Let us know in the comments section below.

Source: Yahoo! News - Use of e-cigs not allowed on US flights

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