DOT Publishes New Rules for Vaporizers

The Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a new flight safety rule on October 26 that prohibits passengers from placing electronic cigarettes or vaporizers in checked luggage.

Up until now, it was perfectly fine for passengers to carry e-cigs and vaporizers in checked luggage. So, why did the DOT revise its policy and this reverse its decision?

The issue at hand isn't associated with the actual e-cigs or vaporizers, but rather the batteries used to power them. The vast majority of e-cigs and vaporizers use lithium-ion batteries, which have been known to catch fire when exposed to extreme heat or other environmental conditions. Since 2009, there have been 26 reports of e-cig related fires on passenger airplanes. The majority of these cases were triggered by e-cigs that were left on instead of turned off. When an e-cig is left on, it continues to produce heat, increasing the risk of a fire.

Li-Po batteries are made with special chips that regulate the rate of charge and discharge to prevent them from overheating. Unfortunately, though, it's not uncommon for these chips to become damaged and stop working.

More recently, passengers at Logan Airport had to evacuate the plane when an e-cig caught fire. No one was harmed during the incident, but reports such as this have become all-too-common, prompting the DOT to take action.

Effective October 26, 2015, airline passengers are no longer allowed to carry e-cigs or vaporizers in checked luggage. So, if you plan on traveling via commercial airliner, how are you supposed to carry these devices?

While checked luggage is off limits for e-cigs and vaporizers, airline passengers may still place these devices in their carry-on bags.

"Passengers may continue to carry e-cigarettes for personal use in carry-on baggage or on their person but may not use them on flights. The Department’s current regulatory ban on smoking of tobacco products on passenger flights includes the use of electronic cigarettes," wrote the DOT in a press release announcing the new policy change.

There is a second type of battery that's available in certain e-cigs and vaporizers. NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) batteries are heavier than Li-Po batteries, but unlike their Li-Po counterpart they don't pose a fire risk. This made them a popular source of power for many of the newer vaporizers that are being released.

Some people might be worried about their vaporizer starting a fire, but in reality incidents like this are few and far between. Furthermore, there's usually some other element at hand, such as the vaporizer being left on; the user modifying his or her vaporizer; or the vaporizer stored in an excessively hot environment.

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