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ECigIntelligence - FAA says carry your e-cig; Ryanair inks e-cig ad deal

ECigIntelligence - Are e-cigs and other tobacco substitutes welcome on passenger planes? Are they a danger, an infringement of near-universal strict rules against in-flight smoking, or a benign product that passengers might appreciate?

Recent developments in the U.S. and Europe, and even at transnational level, suggest some very different attitudes.

In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently described e-cigs in checked baggage as a fire risk. It wants airlines to require vapers to carry them, and related devices, onto airplanes and keep them out of checked luggage.

The FAA used a Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) to make airlines aware of recent incidents where the devices overheated or even caught fire.

Earlier this month, it stated, a checked bag that had missed its flight was discovered on fire in the baggage area at Los Angeles International Airport. Emergency responders blamed the fire on an overheated e-cigarette inside the bag.

And at Boston’s Logan Airport last August, according to the SAFO, an e-cigarette inside a passenger’s checked bag in an airplane’s cargo hold caused a fire that forced the aircraft to be evacuated.

“These incidents and several others occurring outside of air transportation have shown that e-cigarettes can overheat and cause fires when the heating element is accidentally activated or left on,” the SAFO stated.

It also pointed a finger at e-cig enthusiasts who make changes to their equipment.

In Europe, meanwhile, low-cost airline Ryanair has not changed its policy on in-flight vaping despite a new advertising campaign using its boarding passes – but the e-cig company involved is hopeful it could.

The campaign will see Dansmoke-branded “luggage tags” printed on 1.4m Ryanair boarding passes starting this month, enabling passengers to get a discount at the Dansmoke online store.

Ryanair still does not allow the use of e-cigarettes on its aircraft, and continues to sell packets of Similar Smokeless Cigarettes, which are disposable non-electronic devices similar to nicotine inhalers.

“Ryanair does not sell electronic cigarettes on board. However, we have been selling smokeless cigarettes since September 2009,” a Ryanair spokesman told ECigIntelligence. The Similar Smokeless products can be used in-flight since they are not e-cigs.

The agreement with Dansmoke is an advertising deal and not a sales partnership, the Ryanair spokesman added.

Still, Dansmoke is optimistic that Ryanair policy on e-cigarettes will change. “Our e-cigarettes contain nicotine, but there’s no burning and only an odourless steam is produced, making them safe to use even on board an airplane once this becomes acceptable with the airline,” a Dansmoke spokesperson told ECigIntelligence.

Read more on ECigIntelligence

– Jim Myers ECigIntelligence Washington correspondent and Freddie Dawson ECigIntelligence staff

Photo: Oscar von Bonsdorff