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Pallone Steps Up Call for Ban on E-Cigarettes on Airplanes, Following “Unacceptable” Delays

July 24, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following what Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) called “unacceptable” delays and inaction by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Congressman has stepped up his call for the banning of electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, on airplanes.  Pallone today sent a letter to DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx urging the agency finalize a rule – which was originally proposed by DOT nearly four years ago, in September 2011 – banning the use of e-cigarettes on domestic and international commercial 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. 

“It is unacceptable that the rule to ban e-cigarettes on commercial planes was proposed almost four years ago and has yet to be finalized,” said Congressman Pallone.  “I am hopeful that DOT will finally take action on this important rule, and I look forward to working with Secretary Foxx to finally complete this process.”

More than a year ago, Pallone wrote to Secretary Foxx requesting that he expeditiously finalize the rule.  In today’s letter, Pallone expressed disappointment with the continued delay and called for immediate action.  Pallone also highlighted that while most domestic airlines do not allow the use of e-cigarettes on their flights, federal law is not clear and should be amended to explicitly ban e-cigarettes on commercial aircrafts.

“The late Senator Frank Lautenberg from New Jersey was instrumental in passing legislation over 20 years ago that banned smoking on airplanes,” continued Pallone.  “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.”

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.  He 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.

The full text of the letter follows.

July 24, 2015

Dear Secretary Foxx,

            I write today regarding a September 15, 2011 rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation 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. 

           On June 10, 2014, I requested that you expeditiously finalize this important rule.  I am disappointed that it has now been over a year since that letter and nearly four years since the rule was first proposed and it has not been finalized.   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.

           The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has 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 liquids, which can be toxic.  A recent report from CDC shows that e-cigarette use among teenagers has more-than tripled in just one year.  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.  Children who have come in contact with e-cigarette liquids have experienced nausea and vomiting, sometimes requiring emergency room visits.

           Frankly, is it is unacceptable that this rule was first proposed almost four years ago and it has yet to be finalized.  I urge you to immediately finalize the rule to ensure federal law is clear and e-cigarette use on aircrafts is banned.  Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

                                                                                 Sincerely,

FRANK PALLONE, JR.

Member of Congress

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