Senate Dems want to ban e-cigarettes on airplanes

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A group of Democratic senators called Tuesday for the Department of Transportation to end an "unacceptable" delay in implementing a ban on electronic cigarettes on airplanes.

The senators said Tuesday in a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx that the agency is two years behind schedule in finalizing rules that would ban the use of e-cigarettes during flights.

"While many major carriers have decided to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes, federal regulations still allow these products to be used during flight," the lawmakers wrote.

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"The Department of Transportation first published proposed rules to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes on aircraft on September 15, 2011," the senators continued. "It is unacceptable that it has been more than two years and this rule has yet to be finalized."

The letter was signed by Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerDem suggests race factored into Obama Senate endorsement Obama, Biden back Kamala Harris in Calif. Senate race Tim Scott says he was targeted by Capitol Police MORE (D-Calif), Dick DurbinDick DurbinSyria activists cheer Kaine pick Democratic National Convention event calendar Opioid package clears key Senate hurdle MORE (D-Ill.), Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE (D-Iowa), Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalSenate Dems push Obama for more Iran transparency Congress sends first major opioid bill to Obama's desk Opioid package clears key Senate hurdle MORE (D-Conn.), Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownClinton looks to expand electoral map Clinton VP pick could face liberal ire Why Kaine is the right choice for Clinton MORE (D-Ohio), Jack ReedJack ReedDems to GOP: Admit Trump is 'unfit' to be president Armed Services leaders encouraged after first conference meeting US urges China to be calm in wake of South China Sea ruling MORE (D-R.I.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass).

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned airline passengers from smoking traditional cigarettes during flights since the late 1990's.
 
The lawmakers argued that e-cigarette makers were taking advantage of the agency's slow pace in applying a similar ban to electronic smoking devices.

"Numerous electronic cigarette companies have marketed their products as offering the freedom to break the rules or smoke in places where traditional cigarettes are banned, such as airplanes," they wrote.

The senators called for Foxx to quickly finalizing the rules ban e-cigarettes on flights.

"Please act immediately to finalize these rules, and respond with an exact date when regulations will be published and when electronic cigarettes will finally be banned on commercial flights," they wrote.

The Hill is checking with the transportation department for a response to the senators' letter.