US plans to ban e-cigarettes on planes

Smoking electronic cigarettes is to be outlawed on planes in the US, according to reports.

The electronic devices, which give a dose of nicotine and simulated the physical sensation without actually being alight, are currently allowed by some airlines as an alternative to smoking, which is prohibited on all flights.

However, a letter from US transportation secretary Ray LaHood which came to light last week seems to suggest that an official ban will be issued within months, according to USA Today.

Although health concerns regarding the presence of carcinogens and other toxins have been raised about the devices by several organizations, e-cigarettes have become widely available in the last ten years and have sometimes been marketed as a smoking cessation aid in the US and Europe.

In 2009, publicity-hungry Ryanair announced that it would both sell and permit the use of the devices on board its flights, selling packs of ten on board its flights for €6.

Passengers can also power up an e-cigarette on board BMIbaby and EasyJet flights, according to reports.

Clearly though, not all airlines are chasing the smoker's business.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic both told Relaxnews that e-cigarettes are prohibited on their flights, while the websites of several other major airlines including Air Canada, American Airlines, Etihad, Japan Airlines and KLM state that their companies do not permit usage on board.

Despite the fact that smoking real cigarettes on board flights was banned in the US over 20 years ago, it's still worryingly common - figures released last year showed that the FAA prosecuted 696 individuals for smoking, in some cases seeking fines totalling thousands of dollars.

Tips to help smokers endure long-haul flights

  • Ensure you're well-stocked with nicotine patches, nicotine gum or a nicotine inhaler (not an e-cigarette)
  • Aim to sleep for the majority of the flight
  • Take sweets that can be nibbled on to give your mouth and hands something to do
  • Walk around to get some exercise and ensure you have magazines, books or films to keep you distracted
  • Use a hub-based airline to break up long flights into shorter segments