Arguments begin in airplane vape ban lawsuit

A lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is challenging the government agency’s ban on vaping in airplanes. The DOT used the existing ban on airline smoking to also prohibit elecrtonic vape use in March of last year.

The lawsuit was filed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C., and the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA), a non-profit organization that advocates for consumer access to low-risk nicotine alternatives, including vapor products and smokeless tobacco.

The DOT overstepped its authority by banning vaping on airplane flights, CEI general counsel Sam Kazman argued today before a panel of judges in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. The suit was filed last April in the federal court.

Most airlines had already prohibited vaping on their planes before the federal government stepped in and made the ban mandatory. The CEI attorneys argue that the decision should be left to the owners of the planes, rather than imposed by the DOT.

The DOT had admitted five years earlier that vapes produce no smoke, and showed no evidence that they caused any harm to passengers, according to a CEI blog by Michelle Minton. The think tank’s attorney claims that the regulation is more about frightening people away from vaping than protecting the passengers.

“Despite the fact that almost every single study to look at the actual health effects of vaping has found them to be much less harmful than traditional cigarettes,” wrote Minton, “advocates—in and outside of the government—want Americans to think they are just as deadly as regular cigarettes, which kill upwards of half their users.”

Some anti-smoking researchers have been trying desperately to find any evidence for possible long-term risks associated with vaping,” she said. “But these efforts are far from ‘evidence based.’ For example, a recent study found that vaping caused temporary arterial stiffness and has been used by many—including researchers who know better—to say that vaping is ‘as bad for the heart as cigarettes.’ Yet, the study merely demonstrated what scientists already knew; that nicotine causes arterial stiffness, just as caffeine, exercise, and even stress do.”

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