VAPE pens and e-cigarettes were banned from airlines in over 45 countries after the devices caused fires and explosions both on and off planes.
The law went into effect in October 2015 in an effort to make flights and traveler's on board safer.
Can you vape on planes?
Airlines banned vaping and e-cigarettes on airplanes in 2015, making it legal to bring a vape on the plane, but illegal to smoke it.
Travelers should note that while a vape is permitted in a carry-on bag, it is not permitted in a checked bag and airline attendants will ask if there are any lithium-ion batteries in the suitcase.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has strict measures, saying anyone carrying a vape should take measures to prevent accidental activation of the device.
If an individual is seen vaping on a plane, they will face a fine of up to $4k – the minimum fine is $2k – however, the fine for dismantling a bathroom smoke detector will amount to much more at the discretion of the airline.
Vaping is also banned inside airports but varies based on the country. Vapes and E-cigarettes have been banned in over 45 countries and travelers should check the country's rules before boarding a flight.
When did vaping on planes become illegal?
Vapes were banned on airlines in October 2015, more than 25 years after the TSA banned cigarettes on planes.
The decision came after vapes were found to spark fires in traveler's suitcases and one man was severely burned while at a gas station when an e-cigarette – which falls under the same category as vapes – exploded in his pocket in 2016.
“He was giving me money, he put his hand in his pocket, so suddenly there was fire. Big fire, and he was burning," the gas station attendant, Jassie Singh, told CNN.
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“It’s not so much an issue of the e-vapor product but with the lithium batteries they are using, and most are mismatched to the charger,” Tom Kiklas of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association told CNN.
Then-Rep Duncan Hunter (R-California) approved the decision to remove vapes and e-cigarettes from airplanes, and his then-chief of staff, Joe Kasper, told The Washington Post: “This Administration sees vaping as a proxy fight with tobacco, it’s that simple, when in actuality vaping is very different, as both a product and a preference.
“The point that vaping pens are a fire hazard is just a convenient excuse—because why not look at anything else with a battery, or anything else with a potential to ignite under extreme conditions.”
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington, DC) said in a statement in 2016: “If such a fire occurred on an airplane, it could be catastrophic, which is why DOT had previously issued a rule (prohibiting) electronic cigarettes in checked baggage."
She continued: “In any case, smoking was banned on airplanes more than 25 years ago. I believe this case should have been closed long ago.”
Why is vaping on planes illegal?
The lithium-ion batteries found in e-cigarettes and vapes sparked more than 30 fires on flights in three years, The Washington Post reported in 2019.
One fire occurred in 2017 when a passenger was aboard a flight to Los Angeles, California when his e-cigarette began smoldering on the plane. A flight attendant quickly submerged it in an ice bucket and put it in a fire containment bag.
Another fire occurred on a plane from the lithium-ion batteries in San Diego, California, and the suitcase had to be pulled from the cargo hold.
“We think that’s a pretty significant threat,” Mark Millam, vice president of technical programs at the Flight Safety Foundation and a former safety chief at Northwest Airlines told The Washington Post.
“It’s gone from one to multiple devices that most passengers are carrying on. You don’t know where all these things are coming from and what’s in them and how legitimate they are.”
Vape pens have been the cause of numerous injuries and in some cases death. The Washington Post reported that a man died in Texas after a vape exploded in his mouth, moments after he purchased it in 2019.
The man's grandmother told the outlet that her grandson, William Brown, died two days after the vape exploded, sending shards of metal into his face and neck.
His death was ruled to be from a stroke which was the result of “penetrating trauma from exploding vaporizer pen,” a Tarrant County medical examiner said.
There were 2k explosions and burn injuries from vape pens in the US from 2015 to 2017, according to a study published by Tobacco Control, and the U.S. Fire Administration said they were a direct result of the lithium-ion batteries.
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