Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx urging the agency to finalize a rule that would ban the use of electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, on commercial aircraft. This rule, originally proposed by DOT in September 2011, would explicitly ban e-cigarette use on both domestic and international flights. In the letter, Congressman Pallone called on DOT to complete this process and amend federal regulations to state, unequivocally, that the use of e-cigarettes will not be allowed on airplanes.
"The late Senator Frank Lautenberg from New Jersey was instrumental in passing legislation over 20 years ago that banned smoking on airplanes," said Congressman Pallone. "His efforts ensured that passengers would not be exposed to dangerous secondhand smoke while traveling. Now, decades later, we have a responsibility to exercise similar caution with regard to e-cigarettes, especially since the health risks these products pose are not fully known. I look forward to working with Secretary Foxx and DOT to finally complete this process."
Congressman Pallone has repeatedly drawn attention to the risks that tobacco products and nicotine continue to pose to public health. Most recently, he urged chain pharmacies across the country to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in their stores. He also called on the Food and Drug Administration to release regulations regarding the manufacture and distribution of e-cigarettes, which were later issued in April 2014. Congressman Pallone has consistently expressed serious concerns regarding marketing tactics being employed by some e-cigarette companies, which are similar to those previously used by tobacco companies to appeal to younger people, such as through candy flavoring, cartoon images, and event sponsorships.
Below is the full text of the letter:
June 10, 2014
Honorable Anthony Foxx
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Secretary Foxx,
I write today regarding actions taken by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding the use of electronic cigarettes on commercial aircraft. On September 15, 2011, DOT proposed a rule that would amend the general regulatory authority language in 14 CFR Part 252 to explicitly ban the use of electronic cigarettes on scheduled intrastate, interstate and foreign flights. This proposal was an important step to ensuring that U.S. regulations include the ban of e-cigarettes on airplanes.
E-cigarette cartridges typically contain flavoring along with the highly-addictive drug nicotine, among other ingredients, which are delivered to the user through a battery-powered device that converts the liquid to an aerosol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported serious concerns about the health effects of the use of e-cigarettes. In fact, potentially harmful ingredients have been documented in some e-cigarettes, including irritants, toxins known to damage cellular DNA, and animal carcinogens. Because the safety of e-cigarette use, especially over time, is not well understood by the scientific community it is critical that we take caution by protecting users and those exposed secondhand. In addition, CDC has also reported that a large number of poison-related cases have been linked to e-cigarette chemicals, which can be toxic.
I understand that most, if not all, domestic airlines do not allow the use of e-cigarettes on their flights. But federal law is not clear in this respect and it should be amended so that the use of e-cigarettes aboard aircraft is explicitly banned.
Therefore, I urge you to expeditiously move to finalize this rule to unequivocally ensure air passengers in the U.S. that the use of electronic cigarettes on airplanes is not allowed. Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.