Vaping Zones at Airports are a Reality

Skyscanner, a worldwide travel search site, recently conducted a survey involving 1000 travellers, to gauge their opinion on having special licensed areas at airports, where users of electronic cigarettes are permitted to vape (which is the term used to describe the inhalation of vapours produced by the electronic device). The first such licensed area was set up at Terminal 4 of the Heathrow airport. The survey revealed that over 57% of the respondents had no objection to the establishment of similar designated areas at other airports.

Seventy percent of smoker-respondents to the survey supported the idea while 50% of the non-smoker travellers participating in the survey were in favour.

The Heathrow Terminal 4 vaping zone covering an area of 30 square metres (323 square feet) was set up by well known electronic cigarette maker, Gamucci, in the International Departures Lounge of the airport. Located in close proximity to the duty-free and lifestyle brand shops, it only sells Gamucci products. Presently, it is the only place within the airport where travellers can enjoy vaping.

E-cigarettes are electronic devices which use the power from a battery to generate a thick vapour from a nicotine-containing liquid. The vapour closely resembles the smoke from a tobacco cigarette and can be easily mistaken for traditional cigarette smoke. The British Medical Association recommends a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public areas on the grounds that they normalise cigarette use at work and in public places.

For traditional cigarette smokers to enjoy a puff, Heathrow has special areas located outside the main terminal building. The airport, in its website confirms that the restrictions on the use of conventional cigarettes within the airport terminal buildings equally apply to electronic cigarettes with the only exception being the Terminal 4 e-cigarette lounge which is designated for use by vapers. The website also states that e-cigarettes can be carried by a passenger on his person but advised the passengers to check if their airline allows the device on board the aircraft.

Gatwick airport’s website is categorical in stating that there is a complete prohibition on smoking in all places inside the terminal building and smokers have to abstain once they have completed their security checks. The site also states that the use of e-cigarettes is not allowed within the terminal building.

According to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) there are around 1.3 million users of e-cigarettes and the industry has been witnessing a rapid increase in the sales volumes. A June 2013 announcement by the MHRA stated that all nicotine-containing products, which also encompass e-cigarettes, would be classified as medicines and regulated accordingly. The move was aimed at ensuring that certain safety standards are met.

While most respondents welcomed the setting up of licensed areas for vaping, only a fifth were of the opinion that electronic cigarette use should be allowed freely within the airport building.

Only 40% were in favour of vaping zones within the aircraft. However, 64% of smokers stated that they may avail the facility of vaping while flying, if vaping zones onboard aircraft become a reality.

Cruise lines are also in the process of imposing a ban on tobacco smoking on private balconies. Three cruise lines have announced in August that smoking will be permitted only in designated areas on the deck.