Oct 29, 2015 12:21 AM EDT
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) made public on Oct. 26, a new federal rule that will prohibit e-cigarettes to be placed on checked in luggage. These handy battery-operated devices include e-cigarettes, e-cigars, personal vaporizers and any tool that delivers nicotine.
"The importance of the safety of the flying public provides good cause for our issuing an interim final rule," federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety administrator Marie Therese Dominguez said.
This law followed after reports since 2009 recorded an estimated 26 e-cigarette-related blasts and fire. Most of these cases were due to battery circuit and unintentionally left on. "Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous. Banning e-cigarettes from checked bags is a prudent safety measure," Anthony Foxx, the transportation secretary explained.
To cite a few examples, passengers at Logan Airport in Boston were forced to evacuate the aircraft after an e-cigarette placed in a checked baggage of one passenger caught fire; this incident reportedly happened last year. And another case, earlier this year, involved a late and missed bag that caught fire when the e-cigarette inside overheated.
The top three manufacturing companies refused to release a statement. But Stephen Pope, who studies for Starlight Ideas' tobacco industry, pointed out, "If an e-cigarette device in a suitcase in the plane's hold can catch fire, why would having said item in hand luggage in the cabin make it safer? ... To my mind, this is a step too far."
This newly implemented rule will, however, still allow portable cigarette users to bring their devices in carry-on bags or pockets, but during a flight, these are prohibited to be recharged or used. "Nevertheless, to prevent passenger or crew member confusion, the department has proposed to amend its existing airline smoking rule to explicitly ban use of electronic cigarettes aboard aircraft," the department said. According to the Associated Press, implementation of this new policy will begin within two weeks.
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