Most of the airlines here in the U.S. have banned the use of electronic smoking devices. Southwest and AirTran both explicitly state the ban on their websites and in-flight procedure manuals. Many other airlines have jumped on that trend, and instruct their flight attendants to persuade passengers to avoid the use of electronic cigarettes
on their aircraft. Is there really a problem with smoking an electronic cigarette while in-flight? The airlines and the FDOT seem to think so, but let’s take a look from another angle.
Electronic Smoking Sections on Planes
An easy fix would be for airlines to institute specific sections for e-cig smokers. With the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, an official government agency, acknowledging that electronic cigarette use is becoming more popular among the 46.6 million adult smokers in the U.S., it only makes business sense for airlines to cater to the wants and needs of their passengers. Giving travelers the option to be seated in a pre-defined, vapor friendly, area of any plane would allow airlines to better serve an enormous segment of customers. At the same time it gives those who do not wish to be around vapor a separate portion of the plane.
The first argument against this plan is sure to be that the vapor from the smoking section will make its way into the rest of the plane. The answer to this rebuttal is in the filtration systems of the airplanes themselves. Currently the vast majority of commercial planes use hospital-grade HEPA filters to clean cabin air. These HEPA filters are designed to remove upwards of 99% of particles and debris from the air. Air is cycled through them 20-30 times per hour on average, and is mixed with air taken in from outside the plane to further provide passengers with fresh oxygen. On top of that, your larger commercial airliners use a separate filtration system for every seven rows of passengers. Add all of this up and it would be easy to create e-cigarette smoking sections on nearly every commercial airliner out there. The smoking section would be regulated by its own, highly effective, air filtration system that is already in place in most instances. Even if filtration systems aren’t designed for those of us who enjoy vapor, or want a cigarette alternative while flying, they need to be in place. Just ask anyone who has sat a row or two behind a passenger traveling with the flu.
We all know that e-cigs lack hundreds of the toxins that traditional cigarettes and cigars contain. Even the CDC report that we linked to above acknowledges this, and the CDC is not amongst those of us who are advocates of electronic cigarettes. In time perhaps the rest of the nation will come around and realize that vaping and smoking are not the same thing. Until then you can still enjoy your favorite electronic smoking device in most places, ironically even in the airport up until the point that you step onto your flight.