Top Dem: Ban e-cigs on airplanes

Top Dem: Ban e-cigs on airplanes
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Airlines are coming under pressure to ban electronic cigarettes on flights.

As passengers fly home for the holidays, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Friday urged more than a dozen airlines to prohibit e-cigarettes from being stowed in carry-on luggage.

His move follows recent reports that batteries in these devices have been exploding and catching fire.

The Transportation Department (DOT) previously banned passengers from storing e-cigarettes in checked bags, but Blumenthal wants the airlines to voluntarily extend the ban to items that passengers carry onboard.

“Last week, American Airlines flight traveling from Dallas to Indianapolis was forced to make an emergency landing when an electronic cigarette in a passenger’s carry-on luggage caught on fire mid-flight,” Blumenthal wrote.

“This troubling incident is not uncommon, and the increase in e-cigarette use means the likelihood of in-flight fires is only going to grow, creating a terrifying risk for all who rely on safe air travel,” he added.

The letters were sent to Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Island Air, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin America.

Blumenthal also demanded the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recall the specific e-cigarette brands that have a history of exploding, while establishing safety standards for the rechargeable batteries they use.

This isn’t the first incident involving exploding electronics. The FDA has recorded 134 cases where an e-cigarette exploded, caught fire, or overheated since 2009.

“Such incidents involving faulty e-cigarettes are happening with alarming regularity,” Blumenthal wrote.

“I am troubled by this lack of action to date, and also concerned that the e-cigarette industry is cutting corners and not taking appropriate steps to ensure the electrical safety of the products they are manufacturing,” he added.

The DOT earlier this year also banned passengers from traveling with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, and last winter, a handful of top airlines prohibited hoverboards onboard after similar concerns were raised.