DOT Sued Over Vaping Ban On Airplanes


The fight against having vape products undergoing the same regulations as tobacco has taken a new legal turn.

A team of lawyers has filed a suit against the U.S. Department of Transportation — known as DOT — over the recent regulation that prohibits the carry or use of vaping products on airlines. The regulation, which came to light in May, restricts the presence — either in checked luggage or for personal use — of vaping products on any airline coming into or leaving the United States.

As reported by Heartland, the team represents the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, known as CASAA, and filed the suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit late last month. The suit alleges that the DOT overstepped its bounds by using tobacco regulations as a way to ban vaping products from airlines.

CASAA Executive Director Julie Woessner is quick to point that the suit is about the legalities of regulations that can be issued by the DOT and not an overall challenge to allow the use of vaping products on airlines.

It is a clear cut case that “is that DOT simply does not have the authority to issue this ban”, says Woessner. She went on to explain the difference between smoking and vaping as “Smoking involves lighting something on fire and then inhaling the products of combustion, whereas vaping does not involve combustion.”

This has been the major issue with the regulation the DOT is enforcing. Smoking was prohibited on airlines in the early 2000s for safety reasons — smoking was done by lighting a cigarette, which is very dangerous on airplanes. However, because vaping does not use combustion as the driver for the vapor the devices create, vaping advocates believe that the devices should not be banned by federal agencies.

Because the DOT only has as much authority as Congress grants them, lawyers are challenging the agency’s ability to enforce the regulation. They also argue that Congress never gave the agency the ability to create regulations when it comes to vaping products, so the federal regulation itself is invalid.

It is also important to know that this lawsuit is not about the moral or ethical issues surrounding vaping on airplanes. In fact, most vaping advocates are encouraging individual airlines to make that decision themselves once they have enough information to make a decision.

This lawsuit is about the fine line between federal regulations that encompass both tobacco and vaping products under the same umbrella. Although the suit is based on technicalities, it is hoped that it will pave the way for more challenges in court over federal regulations that unfairly target vape products. For now, however, the vaping public will have to watch and wait as this suit makes it way through court.

Jimmy, lover, blogger, vaper and ex-smoker. I’ve been blogging about and supporting Vaping since 2009. They changed my life and I think history will show them as one of the most significant public health invention of the 21st century.

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9 Responses

  1. Dr. Andrea Sitler says:

    I hope all smoking (vaping and fire products) are totally banned. They should be grouped as one as it is all the same horrible habit. I support restaurants and venues that ban vaping just like they ban cigs….as it should be. If you don’t wish your child or yourself exposed to the one; you don’t want to be exposed to the other either. Vaping stinks and is nasty. The smell is stronger than cigs and lingers longer. To have to be exposed to this and deal with such on an airplane, in a confined space; is cruel and unusual treatment. Is is horrible to sit next to someone who partakes in these habits as they reek of this nasty stench. Ban it! Ban it all!

    • James says:

      Dr. Sitler I do think that neither smoking or vaping should not be done on the airplane ride as it is disrespectful to others. however I don’t think that just because you don’t like it or approve of it that it should be banned. How would you like it if someone banned all starches, desserts and sugar? You wouldn’t like that would you. No one should lose their right to choose just because some group doesn’t like it. That notion and attitude is the reason this country is in the shape it’s in. As your name states that you are a Doctor, act like one…

    • mike says:

      This isn’t about being able to vape on an airplane. I vape and would hope they don’t allow it on planes. There would be a constant cloud of vape on planes. It’s about how the DOT doesn’t have the authority to make decisions about vaping. It should be up to the individual airline.

    • Edwin Everett says:

      Stronger than cigs? You haven’t been around vapor much, have you? I don’t think anyone is trying to say it’s ok to blow clouds in an airplane. Very few vapors would support that. The concern involves vapor products being taken away from you when you go to another country–either in checked baggage or carry-on. There’s simply no justification for doing so.

    • Duncan says:

      Dr. Sitler,

      Surely someone with your educational background and demeanor would look drastically past the stereotype of vaping, instead of lumping smoking and vaping together in the same bucket – maybe you should look at each as a separate entity altogether. Vapers like me are always faced with knee-jerk reactionary troglodytes such as the doctor here who think that their education makes them experts on everything.

      As a vaper, and a former smoker – I agree that common sense should dictate when and where (and believe me – an aircraft is NOT a good place to do so), different people are sensitive to smells and fragrances and should be treated the same way. I always make it a habit to treat my vaping like smoking… outdoors and away from others unless they have expressed that this is ok with them.

      As for the stronger smell and lingers longer – check the science first please… your comment lacks any foundation except personal conjecture and possibly unfounded ignorance of the science involved. But I digress… here’s to my real message now that I’ve said my peace to the educated idiot…

      I can’t honestly see how the transportation of the materials should be illegal, as long as responsible steps are made by the person to ensure the same transport of the components. Under no circumstances should it be made legal to vape on a flight… but to make it illegal to “carry” on a plane? Haven’t we had enough over-regulation and overzealous government rules that strike down anything without clearly looking at the problem (or lack thereof).

      Clearly, this is an over reach and needs to be struck down… the United States government did this one time before… you know… Prohibition… when the religious right deemed that the citizens of this country were not able to make their own decisions. Funny how history repeats itself… it’s all the same, only the names change.

  2. Tim Lewis says:

    I sincerely hope they ban that hairstyle, “Dr.” Sitler, as it offends my eyes.
    The above argument is just as valid as the one given in your comments.
    Prohibition only creates black markets and criminal enterprise.
    Note: The quotes around Dr. above are because the banality of the comment casts doubt on the credentials.

  3. harry says:

    andrea, you look like you eat a lot of cake, do you like cake?

  4. Michael Henson says:

    “fire products”? Well thought out and polished commentary Doc(?). I have to assume you had a single bad experience with the only Masochistic “vaper” in the world that enjoyed vaping something pretty nasty. The vast majority of vapers prefer something that taste and smells good. All current commercially available e-liquids are based on Glycerin and Polypropylene-glycol which tend to dissipate quite rapidly leaving virtually no odor after a few seconds. These are the same materials used in Theatrical fog machines that you may encounter at a concert. Although I tend to agree that small enclosed venues at 40,000 ft. may not be the best place for a cloud competition, I doubt anyone recalls their parents turning up their noses and exclaiming “Take a shower, You smell like Rock Music!”. if you take a moment to re-read the article you may notice the key point is that another Federal agency, the DOT has apparently overstepped their mandated realm of authority and imposed yet another restriction on what you may carry on your person or pack in your luggage when traveling by air in the US. I’m sure the millions of recent ex-smokers that have found vaping their only viable path to a healthier life appreciate your viewpoint expressed here.


  5. Edwin Everett says:

    Some people have no problem giving away other people’s liberties, but I bet if there were a ban on chips and candy on planes, your fat ass would be the first to speak up.

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