The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a proposed rule to amend its existing airline smoking rule to explicitly ban the use of electronic cigarettes (“e-cigarettes”) on all aircraft in scheduled passenger interstate, intrastate and foreign air transportation. The smoking of cigarettes has been prohibited on airlines for a number of years, and the proposed rule would treat e-cigarettes the same as tobacco products.
The Department of Transportation indicated that it was taking this action because of the increased promotion of electronic cigarettes and the potential health and passenger comfort concerns that they pose in an aircraft. The proposed rule noted that “[e-cigarettes] are marketed as being permissible in places where cigarette use is prohibited.” The Department of Transportation went so far as to comment: “We see no reason to treat electronic cigarettes any differently than traditional cigarettes.”
The comment period on the proposed rule ends on November 14, 2011. As federal, state and local governments increase their focus on the sale and use of tobacco, the Troutman Sanders Tobacco practice will continue to monitor developments in this area. If you have any questions about the proposed regulations or would like assistance in developing and submitting comments in response, please contact an attorney from the Troutman Sanders Tobacco practice.