According to almost any electronic cigarette company’s website you can enjoy your e-cigarette almost anywhere. Up until recently, Blu eCigs claimed on its website that one benefit over traditional cigarettes is that you can “Smoke Anywhere!” The website has toned down its language more recently to say that you can “Smoke in many places where traditional cigarettes aren’t allowed!”
Among other industries, the confusion about where you can or cannot Vape has caused some problems for the travel industry. The FDA has not ruled on the safety of e-cigarettes, but the agency will propose a ruling on how to regulate them in the near future.
This isn’t stopping vaping enthusiasts and others who want to quit smoking with the smokeless and odorless alternative.
The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, which is the industry’s representative, claims that e-cigarette makers have been able to gain 10% to 14% of the 44 million tobacco users in the United States.
E-cigarettes heat liquid containing nicotine to produce a vapor. In addition to water, the e-cigs typically contain vegetable glycerine, artificial flavoring and sometimes, propylene glycol, which is also found in asthma inhalers.
“E-cigarettes as a whole have no secondhand smoke,” says Ray Story, chief executive officer of the association. “They don’t emit anything.”
However, as for where travelers can smoke e-cigarettes isn’t always clear.
Bill Mosley, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, says the current ban on smoking on planes applies to e-cigarettes, though it does not explicitly say so.
“There has been some confusion over whether the Department’s ban on smoking includes a ban on the use of e-cigarettes,” he says.
The department’s proposed an amendment, in September 2011, which specifically bans e-cigarettes in an attempt to help clear up the confusion. However, a final ruling is expected in the near future.
Passengers who fail to comply with the no smoking ban can currently be fined between $1,100 and $11,000 by the Federal Aviation Administration. This, however, leaves airports and hotels to decide on their own how to deal with e-cigarettes.
You can’t use e-cigarettes at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. But you can at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. “State law governs indoor smoking but does not address electronic cigarettes, nor have we chosen at this point to govern their use by ordinance,” says spokesman Patrick Hogan.
This same policy goes for hotels, which recently have become more aggressive in getting rid of smoking in guest rooms and public spaces on their properties.
Wyndham Hotel group, for example, hasn’t made any changes to their smoking policies but “will continue to monitor the trend as it emerges,” says spokeswoman Kathryn Zambito.
On the other hand, Jeffery Waddell, director of Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa, claims, “We would treat an electronic cigarette as a cigarette. There is nicotine vapor, and it falls into the realm of smoking.”
Until there is a clear and defined ruling concerning e-cigarettes it is best to check the policies when traveling.