The Department of Transportation has explicitly banned the use of electronic cigarettes on all commercial flights within the U.S. as well as on international flights that arrive in or depart from the United States.

The decision, announced Wednesday by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, also applies to all chartered flights in which a flight attendant is required.

“This final rule is important because it protects airline passengers from unwanted exposure to aerosol fumes that occur when electronic cigarettes are used onboard airplanes,” Foxx said. “The Department took a practical approach to eliminate any confusion between tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes by applying the same restrictions to both.”

The DOT had previously considered e-cigarettes illegal under its general airline smoking ban. But the new regulation, which is to be published in the Federal Register, clarifies the issue since the prior rule didn’t provide a definition of smoking.

A proposal to ban e-cigarettes on commercial flights has also been proposed legislatively. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the measure last month as part of the FAA reauthorization bill. However, the bill has yet to receive a hearing on the House floor. Faced with a March 31 deadline to fund the FAA, the transportation committee is now working on an alternative short-term extension. 

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