Arguments begin in airplane vape ban lawsuit

CASAA and the Competitive Enterprise Institute are challenging the DOT ban in federal court

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airplane vape ban lawsuit

A lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is challenging the government agency’s ban on vaping in airplanes. The DOT used the existing ban on airline smoking to also prohibit e-cigarette use in March of last year.

The lawsuit was filed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C., and the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA), a non-profit organization that advocates for consumer access to low-risk nicotine alternatives, including vapor products and smokeless tobacco.

The DOT overstepped its authority by banning vaping on airplane flights, CEI general counsel Sam Kazman argued today before a panel of judges in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. The suit was filed last April in the federal court.

Most airlines had already prohibited vaping on their planes before the federal government stepped in and made the ban mandatory. The CEI attorneys argue that the decision should be left to the owners of the planes, rather than imposed by the DOT.

The DOT had admitted five years earlier that vapes produce no smoke, and showed no evidence that they caused any harm to passengers, according to a CEI blog by Michelle Minton. The think tank’s attorney claims that the regulation is more about frightening people away from vaping than protecting the passengers.

“Despite the fact that almost every single study to look at the actual health effects of vaping has found them to be much less harmful than traditional cigarettes,” wrote Minton, “advocates—in and outside of the government—want Americans to think they are just as deadly as regular cigarettes, which kill upwards of half their users.”

“Some anti-smoking researchers have been trying desperately to find any evidence for possible long-term risks associated with vaping,” she said. “But these efforts are far from ‘evidence based.’ For example, a recent study found that vaping caused temporary arterial stiffness and has been used by many—including researchers who know better—to say that vaping is ‘as bad for the heart as cigarettes.’ Yet, the study merely demonstrated what scientists already knew; that nicotine causes arterial stiffness, just as caffeine, exercise, and even stress do.”

Jim McDonald

I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.

  • Rene Fourie

    I am PG sensitive so I don’t want to be exposed to high PG vapour. Especially in an enclosed environment such as a bar or a plane. And even if they all vape max VG then I also don’t want to smell your home brew liquirice ice cream the whole 16 hour flight. So good. In a plane I want to smell fresh and unflavoured air. I can vape when I get off the plain seriously I am not addicted to vaping, people are simply petty about this tou don’t need to vape 24/7.

    Imagine the woman next to you spraying Estee Lauder or some lavender perfume next to you the whole flight? That’s also not harmful to 99.9% of us but would that not piss you off?

    Vaping might not be a tobaco product but smoking laws apply: everyone has the right to fresh and unflavoured air.

    • Jim McDonald

      The suit isn’t to allow people to vape on planes. We’ll never be able to do that, because the airlines themselves will ban it. The point is that the federal government is using non-existent risks to demonize vaping. The whole point of the DOT ban is to add to public fear about vaping.

    • Ric Bachman

      Don’t go to a hospital then, they pump pg into the air as an air sanitizer.

      • Jim McDonald

        Do you know of a hospital that still does that? I haven’t been able to find any confirmation that the practice still occurs.

  • Blueshirt

    I gotta say I wouldn’t really want it to be allowed on a flight either, unless they were to construct areas with an exhaust system around which you can vape. It is just impractical to have people clouding up such a small, enclosed space like an airplane’s cabin. And the mixing of smells would be a bother to almost every passenger, even the other vapers.

  • Asylumsix

    Legally it makes no sense to ban it on a federal level… But unless you’re on a 8+ hour flight I could wait it out..

    I wouldn’t see a problem with allowing something like a cigalike with nic salts, that wouldn’t fog up the place and would keep people happy.. Airports should actually sell unflavored cigalikes and only allow their brand to be used..

    I used to know a couple that would refuse to fly anywhere because they couldn’t smoke, between the both of them they would smoke about 5 packs a day…

    Do you know how many smokers would be happy to vape an unflavored cigalike on a long flight? Flying can be pretty stressful as it is if you have a craving that just makes it worse…

    • They could even use “invisible” e-liquid where there’s no visible vapor on exhale. =)

  • HeadSetVigilante

    I vape, and all I can say is that I wouldn’t want vaping to be allowed on a plane. Sure, it might not be as harmful as second hand smoke, but the vapour itself (especially with my sub ohm tank) can get pretty thick and large. People would find it obnoxious. The only way I could possibly get on board with this is if they had designated vaping sections separated by some sort of barrier. But that’s way more trouble than it’s worth. If you can’t go a few hours without your nicotine fix, bring some Nicorette or other replacement product. Or just suck it up.