In order to improve transportation safety, the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration recently issued an interim final rule (IFR) that prohibits both passengers and crewmembers from bringing battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices via checked baggage along with prohibiting charging of the devices while on board the aircraft.
“We know from recent incidents that e-cigarettes in checked bags can catch fire during transport,” said Anthony Foxx, the Transportation Secretary. Because of fire hazards associated with e-cigarettes, this safety measure seems to be timely and well founded.
This new approach to e-cigarettes and electronic smoking devices is not new. In January 22, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a Safety Alert for Operators, which suggested that passengers be limited to carrying their devices in the cabin of aircraft.
On June 9, 2015, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) published an additional ruling in according with the 2015-2016 ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air prohibiting the onboard carriage of e-cigarettes through checked baggage.
While aircraft passengers can carry their e-cigarettes for personal use in their carry-on bags, they cannot use them while in flight. The Department’s ban on smoking of tobacco extends to the use of electronic cigarettes as well.
To prevent confusion, the Department has recommended that the smoking rule explicitly state that electronic cigarettes are included in the ban.
While the IFR does not ban passenger from carrying personal devices like cell phones, laptops and cameras, which contain batteries, it is important to remember that e-cigarettes are quite different in function.
Passengers may also continue to carry personal batteries as well without any problem.