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DOT Mulls Ban on Electronic Cigarettes

Gant Daily: The U.S. Department of Transportation may ban electronic cigarettes on planes over health risks from its vapors. The proposal was published Wednesday in the Federal Register.

In pushing for the prohibition, the department said there is not sufficient research into the e-cigarette’s vapor, which could irritate travelers’ eyes and throats. Banning the battery-operated device would enhance passenger comfort, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

The e-cigarettes were introduced in the U.S. in 2006 as devices to help smokers kick the nicotine habit. It generates yearly sales of about $100 million for manufacturers.

The vapor emitted by the e-cigarette comes from propylene glycol, nicotine, water, coriander, citric acid and orchid fragrance.

A number of air carriers have banned the use of the device on commercial jets, Amtrak also prohibits its use inside coaches and the U.S. Navy does not allow its use on ship decks.

The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association opposes the proposed ban. Ray Story, chief executive of the association, charged that manufacturers of regular cigarettes were behind the proposed law.

Story said propylene glycol, found in lotions, makeup and medicine, allows the body to absorb substances faster. However, a DOT 2001 study linked the e-cigarette ingredient to acute eye and upper airways irritation.

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