Almost everyone today can agree that smoking is a bad and hazardous habit. This includes both smokers and non-smokers, and the government’s campaign to prohibit tobacco use seems to have worked well. Center of Disease Control records show that in 1965, 42% of US adults smoked tobacco, while in 2012, only 18% were still using. This is well on the right tract to their ultimate goal of only 12% of the population by the end of 2020.

Air Canada and vapingBut rather than completely giving up nicotine, many people are choosing to switch to e-cigarettes. Mostly due to their novelty and the lack of federal laws, there is not much enforcement on where these devices should and should not be used, considering the general public view, which sees them as a ‘safer’ alternative to tobacco.

A recent incident sparked yet another debate on where these e-cigarettes should be restricted or not. On March 28, businessperson Elizabeth Cole arrived at Calgary International Airport for a flight to Toronto. While she was waiting to board the plane, she spotted a man vaping on his e-cig in line and thought the flight crew would ask him to stop once he was on the plane, but that was not the case.

‘I was very surprised that it was allowed to happen,’ Cole said. ‘I don’t understand how flight attendants did not see him. He wasn’t hiding it.’

E-cigarettes are often used as a halfway product for those trying to kick their smoking habit. Many young smokers have completely cut off tobacco cigarette and gone only to vaping. The e-cigarette is made up of a cartridge, a battery, and uses heat to vaporize a nicotine based solution that the smoker inhales. Not all of these devices contain nicotine.

Cole then moved to her seat behind the man and saw him continue to puff out vapor during the flight. At the same time none of the flight crew told the man to stop, despite Air Canada’s strict policy stating passengers are forbidden to vape during flight. ‘Air Canada’s policy, which crews are aware of and uphold, is that e-cigarettes are not permitted to be used on board Air Canada flights,’ said Angela Mah, a representative for the airline, in an email to CBC News.

‘Had the crew been aware of or been alerted during the flight about the purported use of an e-cigarette on board, they would have addressed the matter immediately’ she added.

One of the reasons why e-cigarettes are banned on flights is because of the uncertainty of their safety. In a recent comment the American Lung Association said ‘there is currently no way for the public health, medical community, or consumers to know what chemicals are contained in e-cigarettes, or what short and long term health implications may be. Also unknown is what the potential harm may be to people exposed to secondhand emissions from e-cigarettes.’