Published on December 27th, 2016 | by Jimmy Hafrey
As regulations become more stringent on airlines, a curious issue has made itself apparent when it comes to the banning vaping products and other electronics on board airplanes.
The Hill is reporting that Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, wrote an open letter to more than a dozen airlines this week, urging them to ban vape products altogether from being brought on board in carry-on luggage. The senator believes that by banning all vape products, explosions would be far less frequent on flights.
“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 in his letter. He went on to add that:
“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.”
There seems to be just one trouble with the Senator’s righteous letter: the fact that other electronic devices explode far more frequently and are yet to find themselves the subject of a ban on airlines.
According to ABC News, there have been 140 reported incidents of vape products exploding since 2009. Even more interesting is that the same article points out that 66 explosions happened between early 2015 to early 2016, compared to the 92 explosions that took place between 2009 and 2015, when vape technology was in its earliest stages.
Now compare that to BGR’s assertion that over 70 Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones have exploded since its launch on August 19, 2016, leading the company to conduct a recall of its own phone. This phone, which has been known to cause severe burns to everyone from children to the elderly, is now unavailable to even purchase in most countries, and yet is not completely banned on flights, both domestic and international.
In fact, USA Today did an article on the very topic of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall and partial ban by the Department of Transportation a few months ago; however, from this publication’s standpoint, that ban was mild and did not solve the problem.
This writer witnessed the overheating of a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone on a Virgin Atlantic flight from an American city to London a few months ago. Although the phone did not explode, the fact that the phone was so dysfunctional did lead to alarm from surrounding patrons.
So why are vape products getting such a bad reputation for overheating and exploding? Why does everyone from Richard Blumenthal to Chuck Schumer, as Reason recently reported, want to ban these products on airlines?
Well, for one thing, vape products are still relatively new to the marketplace, and few users understand proper care of their instruments while traveling. For instance, under no circumstance should a vape device hold a battery if a consumer is not actively using it. This is especially true while traveling, since as the Huffington Post points out, many vape products use lithium batteries, which can be delicate, in order to power the devices.
Another issue is that consumers leave their devices to charge for far longer than the recommended amount. In fact, the U.S. Fire Administration found that of all vape-related overheating and exploding incidents reported, 80 percent of those products caught fire while being charged. Only eight percent of all fires occurred while the devices were being used.
While the article from the Huffington Post does not indicate this, it’s important to point out that consumers who vape at a high wattage have a higher-than-normal risk of having their device catch fire, since the higher the wattage on a vaping device, the more delicate the battery contained within in it can be.
We, like many other vape publications, believe that if a vape product is found to be defective and is a public health concern that it ought to be removed from the marketplace at once. It is in our opinion that any vape product that consistently causes problems is not fit for public consumption and has no place in the community.
We also hold the opinion that because the FDA has tied the hands of vape businesses and shops, vapers are not getting the adequate service needed to understand their devices. Now that vape shops are not allowed to demonstrate the product, customers are left to their own devices to learn how to use their products.
This is very dangerous, as many of these devices are meant for advanced users. While we believe adequate regulation is needed in the community and have upheld that belief since our inception, when does the FDA take accountability for its part in tying the hands of the community? When do the federal agencies who have been against vaping since its founding take responsibility for first trying to kill the industry with regulations and then spreading false information about how these devices actually malfunction?
Where is the line?
This publication believes it’s important to bring to your attention that ATR is currently estimating that over nine million people in America vape, and there have been fewer than 75 malfunctions reported every year. We also think it’s important that you question your representatives and their motives for trying to ban powerless vape devices on airplanes, which is how most vape customers fly.
Because if you don’t ask the hard questions about vaping, who will?