||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (November 2013)|
Inflight smoking is prohibited by almost all airlines; smoking on domestic U.S. airliners, for instance, was banned for almost all routes beginning in 1988, with all planes being smoke-free by the end of the 1990s. According to FAA regulations, smoking lit cigarettes or anything else that produces smoke or flame is prohibited onboard most commercial aircraft. However, the FAA has not issued a regulation for or against electronic cigarettes, leaving that decision up to the individual airlines. After years of debate over health concerns, the U.S. ban on inflight smoking began with domestic flights of two hours or less in April 1988, extended to domestic flights of six hours or less in February 1990, and to all domestic and international flights in 2000.
Normally, passengers found to be smoking on non-smoking flights will at least face a fine (up to $5,000) and at worst be arrested and detained upon landing. Due to stringent security measures, this often causes disruption such as having to land the flight early in order to escort the smoker from the plane.
Such regulations have on occasion met with defiance; in 2010 a Qatari diplomat was arrested upon arrival at Denver International Airport for smoking in the onboard lavatory on United Airlines Flight 663 and for making threats; when confronted by airline staff, he jokingly suggested that he was attempting to set his shoes on fire. Amy Winehouse spent approximately half of her hour-long flight to Dublin smoking in the toilet; despite passenger complaints and an announcement over the public address, no action was taken against her. On February 3, 2013, a family of four were accused of smoking during a Sunwing Airlines flight from Halifax to the Dominican Republic. They caused the flight to make an emergency landing at Bermuda L.F. Wade International Airport. The two eldest of the family were arrested by Bermuda Police Service and subsequently sentenced to a $500 fine or 10 days in prison.
Due to the ubiquitous prohibition of in-flight smoking and the increasingly widespread use of electronic devices, the illuminated no-smoking signs have sometimes been re-purposed to inform passengers to switch devices off for take-off and landing. Where this is the case, the no-smoking sign is permanently printed on the overhead panels.
- Smokefree Transportation Chronology
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