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DOT Bans E-Cigarettes In Checked Bags

E-smokers beware! The Department of Transportation this week issued a ruling prohibiting any battery-powered e-smoking devices (e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipes, personal vaporizers, electronic nicotine delivery systems) from being transported in checked bags. Also prohibited: “charging the devices and/or batteries on board the aircraft.”

The underlying concern is the devices’ batteries, which are prone to overheating and could cause a fire. According to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx: “We know from recent incidents that e-cigarettes in checked bags can catch fire during transport. Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous. Banning e-cigarettes from checked bags is a prudent safety measure.”

There’s no word from the DOT on specific incidents caused by e-smoking devices, but an AP story cites a January incident at Los Angeles International airport where an e-cigarette ignited a bag sitting in the luggage area.

The new rule takes effect within the next two weeks, and it remains to be seen how effectively the airlines will communicate the ban to passengers. It’s hard to imagine the airlines’ putting much energy or resources into getting the word out. And even if travelers are aware of the policy, it’s hard to imagine high rates of compliance.

If you smell smoke in the cabin, there might be a fire in the cargo hold.

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