ANR UPDATE, 29(1), Spring 2010

Action Alert: Does Your Favorite Airline Allow E-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular among people who want to get their nicotine fix in the friendly skies. ANR does not want to see the rising use of e-cigarettes undermine existing smokefree laws, especially in places like airplanes. If people see e-cigarettes in use on their flight, they may think it is okay to smoke a real cigarette, which would create a major health, fire, and safety risk on the plane. In addition, questions remain about the health risks to nonsmokers associated with the vapor from e-cigarettes.

With the increased marketing and promotion of e-cigarettes, ANR is researching airlines' policies on e-cigarettes. Based on our research, American Airlines, Continental, and Southwest are the only airlines that currently have formalized, published policies against the use of e-cigarettes onboard their aircraft. Southwest is the only airline to explicitly state the prohibition in the inflight service guide. Additionally, a U.S. Airways representative reports that the airline has an unpublished internal policy prohibiting e-cigarettes. The European airlines Virgin Atlantic, TUI, and Thomas Cook are reported to prohibit e-cigarettes but ANR has not been able to confirm this information.

Message boards on websites are full of advice about how to successfully use e-cigarettes on airplanes and stories about which airlines people have had success or trouble with in using e-cigarettes, as well as reactions from flight crew who increasingly have to deal with people using these devices on board. The message boards indicate that flight attendants are asking passengers to not use them because it makes other passengers uncomfortable to see the vapor cloud, and because they are afraid it could encourage people to light up real cigarettes.

ACTION STEPS:

Contact the airline(s) you frequently fly to either thank them for having a "no e-cigarettes" policy or encourage them to adopt one.

We believe that the use of e-cigarettes on planes is not acceptable, as it undermines the social norm about smoking on planes and encourages people to light up the real thing - a fire, health, and safety danger.

 

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