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US Department of Transportation bans e-cigarette on flights

04 March 2016

The US Department of Transportation  has banned the use of e-cigarette on all commercial flights.

The decision had been on the cards for a while. After it was first introduced in 2011, it had gone through a few stages, including an ''interim final rule'' in October 2015. It has now become a ''final rule.''

''Electronic cigarettes cause concern because studies have shown that e-cigarette aerosol can contain a number of harmful chemicals,'' the agency said in a statement. ''While further study is needed to fully understand the risks, the Department believes that a precautionary approach is best.''

With the ruling, both cigarettes and e-cigarettes are now bracketed in the same category as far as their use on flights is concerned.

The Washington Post reported that prior to yesterday's ruling, passengers could bring their e-cigarettes onboard but not in their checked luggage.

Though  there was some confusion over whether passengers could actually use their e-cigarettes while on the plane, the announcement today had clarified the issue.

While vaporisers were not mentioned as such, the text of the ruling made it amply clear that vaping of any kind - except where medical devices were concerned stood banned.

''This final rule is important because it protects airline passengers from unwanted exposure to aerosol fumes that occur when electronic cigarettes are used onboard airplanes,'' transportation secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.

Passengers can carry e-cigarettes with them on planes, but charging their batteries during flight is not allowed.

Passengers are also not allowed to pack e-cigarettes in their checked luggage under an interim final regulation adopted by the Federal Aviation Authority.

The order was last year issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which forms part of the transportation department.

The regulation comes in response to several instances in which e-cigarettes had set suitcases on fire.

Hawaiian Airlines said earlier this year that it was forced to make an emergency landing after an e-cigarette that was illegally put in a checked bag caused the captain to activate the plane's fire-suppression system.

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