Smoke on a Plane: E-Cigarettes Ignite Controversy

electronic cigarettes a threat to plane travel
electronic cigarettes a threat to plane travel

Getting on a plane? You might want to leave your e-cigarettes at home. (Photo: Thinkstock)

There is new controversy over the use of electronic cigarettes on airplanes — but this time instead of it being about the health effects of the “vaping” on fellow passengers, it’s about fire safety. After an e-cigarette burned a hole in a passenger’s checked luggage at Logan International Airport in Boston, airport officials are calling for federal officials to classify the devices as hazardous materials, according to The New York Times.

On Saturday, August 9, passengers were evacuated from a JetBlue flight to Buffalo, New York, when baggage handlers smelled smoke. The smoldering bag was removed from the plane and put out with a fire extinguisher. But if the flight had actually taken off, things could have been very different, pointed out Ed Freni, director of aviation with the Massachusetts Port Authority.

electronic cigarette causes in-flight fire on plane
electronic cigarette causes in-flight fire on plane

Some say airplanes and e-cigarettes don’t mix. (Photo: Thinkstock)

The culprit seems to have been an e-cigarette. “The more you see these type of items sold out there, the more our industry has to take a closer look at them, as we’ve done with other hazardous materials,” Freni told The New York Times.

E-cigarettes deliver nicotine as well as the flavor and feel of smoking, and are usually powered by re-chargeable lithium-ion batteries.

Though lithium-ion batteries have been linked to fires on planes and cars before, a spokeswoman for the US Department of Transportation said the agency is not considering further restrictions for e-cigarettes, which are currently considered personal devices by the Transportation Security administration. And though the Massachusetts Port Authority blames the e-cigarette for the incident, the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services said the cause had not yet been determined.

WATCH: The Safety of E-Cigarettes

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