Some Airports Allow Patrons to Smoke Electronic Cigarettes

December 8, 2013 Updated: April 24, 2016

While passengers are barred from using electronic cigarettes on flights, some airports allow passengers to smoke them inside the terminals.

Currently, electronic cigarettes, which are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine and produce an odorless vapor, fall through the regulation of what “cigarettes” and “tobacco” are defined by the United State’s Food and Drug Administration. Accordint to reports by USA Today, sometim soon, the FDA will be proposing rules for e-cigarettes that will cover the entire nation, including how they can be marketed and what age they will be allowed to be purchased, but until then, it’s up to states and private businesses themselves to set their own regulations.

In the state of California, many cities have already expanded their definition of tobacco to include electronic cigarettes, but the topic is still a gray area for many. According to the Airports Council International, state and local laws dictate how airports can govern their use of e-cigarettes indoors.

USA Today Network reporter Jolie Lee reaches out to the nation’s busiest airports to find out which ones allow patrons to “vape” or smoke electronic cigarettes inside the building and terminals. Ronald Reagan Washington National airport, Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport, Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport and Charlotte Douglas International Airport all permit the use of e-cigarettes inside the terminals. As of right now, Miami International Airport does allow patrons to smoke inside, but a representative said the policy is under review and will change if need be.

On the other hand, New York City’s LaGuardia International and John F. Kennedy International airports both ban and permit e-cigarette use, it just depends on what terminal a patron is in, if it is allowed.

The FDA has tested samples of the nicotine liquid solutions inside the electronic cartridges used in the cigarette devices such as portable vaporizers and found “detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals”, according to a 2009 report. However, the ever-pressing e-cigarette industry says the product is a low-risk alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes and do not produce any secondhand smoke, let alone dangerous toxins to other people around the smoker.

The e-cigarette industry has been growing rapidly since its debut, according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In 2011, one in five smokers had tried e-cigarettes, which was double the number from 2010. Some researchers are even studying how electronic cigarettes differ from traditional tobacco products, and have found that they may help users quit all together. However, there hasn’t been enough sufficient evidence that proves or disproves whether electronic cigarettes are a truly safer option to tobacco.