E-cigarettes have been permanently banned by the U.S. Department of Transportation from checked baggage on airplanes due to the fire risks associated with the electronic devices.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that passengers and crew members could still place e-cigarettes inside their carry-on baggage or on their person, but they are not allowed to be used during flights. Charging up the e-cigarettes while inside the airplane has also been prohibited.
"Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous," said Foxx in a statement, adding that the permanent ban on e-cigarettes from being included in checked baggage is "a prudent and important safety measure."
A temporary ban was placed in November, but due to the recent incidents wherein e-cigarettes caught fire while on transport, the ban has been upgraded to a permanent one. The risk has been worsened by the trend of e-cigarette users applying modifications to their devices by introducing new components such as heating elements, batteries and other electronic parts.
The ban covers portable battery-powered electronic smoking devices in general, which includes e-cigarettes, e-pipes and e-cigars.
Back in March, the Department of Transportation formally banned the use of e-cigarettes in commercial flights, covering all scheduled flights by local and foreign carriers that will transport passengers within, to and from the United States. The ruling clears all confusion regarding the difference between using tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes in flights, as the same restrictions have been applied to both products.
Senator Charles Schumer has recently called for a probe into the possible causes of exploding e-cigarettes, along with a possible recall that will hold the manufacturers of the device accountable. The call for an investigation follows an announcement by the Food and Drug Administration that it will now be regulating e-cigarettes, with tougher regulations for the devices that includes prohibiting individuals below 18 years old from buying one.