Certainly Not on the Plane: A Plea to Prohibit Airline Passengers from "Vaping" During Flights

People who are trying to quit smoking resort to using electronic cigarettes. But decoding the legal haze around smoking e-cigarettes during flights is not easy.


Ottawa, ON -- (SBWIRE) -- 05/02/2014 -- Angela Mah, Spokeswoman of Air Canada, made it clear that “Air Canada does not allow the use of e-cigarettes on board all Air Canada flights”.

This explanation was sent to CBC News a few weeks after Calgary businesswoman Elizabeth Cole, a passenger of Air Canada, along with other passengers, on March 28, complained about how the crew ignored another passenger’s (from the same flight) use of electronic cigarettes. According to Cole, she would understand had the flight attendants didn’t notice the “vaping” acts. But, according to her, the man was not hiding his e-cigarette. “I was very surprised it was allowed to happen,” lamented Cole.

A number of e-cigarettes manufactured are being advertised as not setting-off airplane smoke alarms like what the conventional ignited cigarettes do. Transport Canada, admits that they don’t have specific policies banning the use of electronic cigarettes during flights. They are leaving the decision to the airlines. Spokespersons of some airlines like WestJet and Porter admit that they are not fully aware if the “vapour” from e-cigarettes can be detected by smoke detectors.

Air Canada specifically cited that it is part of their rules to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes on aircraft. The same goes with West Jet. However, in the case of Air Canada, this was not announced as part of their flight protocols. And what created more disappointment for the complaining passengers is that flight attendants obviously saw what happened and they just allowed the act.

In 2011, the US Department of Transportation officially banned the use of electronic cigarettes given the unknown dangers it can cause. In 1994, Canada was one of the countries in the world who required smoke-free domestic and international flights for all carriers. So why are there still instances of passengers “vaping” during flights?

Calgary Eyeopener’s Medical Columnist Dr. Raj Bhawdwaj said “There's no clear consensus on whether e-cigarettes are safe but their perception as a safer alternative to traditional smoking could undo much of what anti-smoking advocates have fought for. A lot of people are saying they are allowed to 'vape' because they're not smoking, and the anti-tobacco lobby is up in arms about this.”

To date, a number of airlines have started educating their passengers that the use of e-cigarettes during flights are not allowed. Senator Frank Lautenberg, who wrote the 1987 law banning smoking on airplanes mentioned that it is expected that there are passengers who would interpret flight attendant instructions to mean that the e-cigarette, being a a “device”, would only be prohibited when other electronic devices were not allowed during takeoff and landing. “There had been confusion over their use and wanted to make sure officials were solidly opposed to opening the door to e-smoking on planes. Some e-cigarette distributors have touted the convenience of the smokeless cigarettes because they can be "smoked" anywhere traditional cigarettes are not allowed.”

According to Federal Aviation Act’s regulations, “smoking lit cigarettes or anything else that produces smoke or flame is prohibited onboard most commercial aircraft”. However, up until now, the FAA has not yet issued a guideline for or against the use of electronic cigarettes during flights as they leave all decisions to the individual airlines. So some airlines, like in te case of Air Canada, who are not announcing the prohibition on the use of this device at the beginning of their flights, are expected to encounter the same issue unless they illuminate their no-smoking signs and clarify that that includes the use of electronic cigarettes.

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CanCigs is 100% Canadian owned and operated located in the heart of the Nations Capital. After nearly 1.5 years of research & development, they are happy to announce that they have partnered with the world leader in electronic cigarette design and manufacturing and they are proud to introduce consumers to the most technologically advanced and superiorly crafted electronic cigarettes sold in Canada today.

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