10/19/2011 07:48 am ET Updated Dec 18, 2011

Should The Transportation Department Ban Electronic Cigarettes On Planes

The Department of Transportation has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes a ban on e-cigarette use in airliners. Here's the Federal Register entry on the NPRM.

The Department of Transportation is proposing to amend its existing airline smoking rule to explicitly ban the use of electronic cigarettes on all aircraft in scheduled passenger interstate, intrastate and foreign air transportation. The Department is taking this action because of the increased promotion of electronic cigarettes and the potential health and passenger comfort concerns that they pose in an aircraft. The Department is also considering whether to extend the ban on smoking (including electronic cigarettes) to charter flights of air carriers (i.e. US carriers) and foreign air carriers with aircraft that have a designed seating capacity of 19 or more passenger seats.

FlyersRights has received a number of e-mails from members on this NPRM, supporting it for various reasons. Unlike the Three-Hour Tarmac Rule and the new rules implemented by the DOT on August 23rd, this proposal is not crystal-clear. The DOT acknowledges that research data to support their allegation of risk is hard to come by, saying that "Electronic cigarettes cause potential concern because there is a lack of scientific data and knowledge of the ingredients in electronic cigarettes."

At the same time, some of our members cite concerns about the health and cabin comfort effects of the devices. What do you think? Please take our simple, two-question survey on this issue. We'll send a detailed report of the survey directly to the DOT, and we'll report the results to you in our newsletter and here in on the Huffington Post. The survey will only take a minute or two of your time.

Here's the survey link: FlyersRights e-Cigarette Survey