Imagine that you're sitting on an airplane just after takeoff. As your flight approaches 10,000 feet, the flight attendant relays the following message over the intercom: "Ladies and gentleman, portable electronic devices are approved for use at this time; this includes any e-cigarettes you may choose to enjoy." Suddenly, the person next to you "lights up" an electronic cigarette - a device designed to simulate cigarette - and proceeds to "puff" away during the entire flight.
A recent article in Jaunted tackles the idea of e-cigarette use on airplanes. The inspiration behind the article was because of a CBS New York story earlier this year that says the state legislature is considering a ban on e-cigarettes until they are properly studied and regulated. Smokers believe the ban is a lot of hot air (so to speak) but others believe the health risks of these nicotine inhalers aren't yet fully understood.
In 1998, the US Department of Transportation issued an order banning smoking on domestic flights throughout the country. Considering it was almost impossible to separate smokers from non-smokers on a plane, this regulation was a relief to many who believed that exposure to secondhand smoke was not only a nuisance, it also solved a major public health issue. However, e-cigarettes don't produce any type of smoke-- only secondhand water vapor. While these devices don't seem to carry the health risks of cigarettes, the stigma remains the same.
Advocates say that the water vapor in e-cigarettes is safe for non-smokers, and that the devices actually prevent major health problems associated with smoking such as cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. Still, the ill-effects of nicotine aren't entirely understood as of yet, and until that happens, the FAA and the Department of Transportation will most likely err on the side of caution rather than face a lawsuit, even if Big Tobacco lobbies heavy on the side of e-cigarettes with smoke, or should we say, water vapor and mirrors.