Vaping Ban Upheld By Federal Court By Bryan Le 07/24/17

Federal appeals court judges issued a controversial ruling that some are calling a dangerous interpretation of the law.

Airline pilot vaping an e-cigarette before a flight.

No ripping clouds in the sky.

A federal court has stamped out a challenge to the Department of Transportation’s ban on e-cigarettes on commercial flights. E-cigarettes were added to the list of banned tobacco products last year in order to protect passengers from a vaper’s secondhand mists on all commercial U.S. flights as well as international flights to and from the U.S.

E-cigarettes or similar vaping devices use electric heating elements to vaporize a specialized liquid, typically containing nicotine, to allow users to experience the act of smoking without all the downsides that come with inhaling smoke. This would, in theory, allow a person with nicotine cravings to reduce the harm they commit to themselves and others with carcinogenic smoke.

“True, e-cigarettes might fit within these definitions if one squints hard enough, but as the court itself notes, ‘we cannot just tally the dictionary definitions,’” said dissenting judge Douglas Ginsberg.

 The DoT ban was challenged by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives and an e-cigarette user. They are mulling over whether to appeal the ruling.

“Today’s court ruling creates a dangerous new rule for interpreting the law,” said Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “It allows the commonly-understood language of Congress’s 30-year-old no-smoking statute to be stretched in a ban on e-cigarettes—even though e-cigarettes involve no combustion and produce no smoke.”

Kazman’s team argues that “any risks to airline passengers are totally undemonstrated.”

Being a relatively new technology, the research is not yet in on the potential risks and benefits of e-cigarette use. But the technology, branded as “safe” by its marketers, has a special appeal to teenagers. A Surgeon General report finds that vaping among high schoolers has increased by about 900% since 2011. Ironically, while the technology is touted to help people quit smoking, researchers have found that it may be a gateway to tobacco use for teens.

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