Skift Take

If e-cigarette smokers need a little corner of the airport to imbibe, there's no great harm. Just make sure that e-puffing is banned from flights.

A survey of 1,000 travellers by global travel search site Skyscanner found that 57 per cent of people would not object to other airports following in the London hub’s footsteps, by licensing areas for “vaping”, the practice of inhaling vapour from an e-cigarette.

Among the smokers questioned, the percentage of those in favour was 70 per cent, and among non-smokers 50 per cent.

On Monday electronic cigarette manufacturer Gamucci opened a 323 square foot (30 square metre) “vaping zone” in the International Departures Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 4, next to luxury brand and duty-free shops. It is currently the only indoor area in which passengers can smoke e-cigarettes, and sells only Gamucci’s line of products.

E-cigarettes do not produce smoke but instead emit a similar-looking vapour, which may mean that passers-by mistake those using them for standard smokers. The British Medical Association has advised that e-cigarettes be included in the ban on smoking in public spaces, because they may make “cigarette use seem normal in public and at work.”

Heathrow has designated areas for the smoking of traditional cigarettes outside the terminal building but its website states: “Electronic cigarettes are subject to the same restrictions as standard cigarettes and therefore cannot be used inside terminal buildings, except in the designated e-cigarette lounge in Terminal 4. They can be carried on your person, but please check with your airline on whether they are allowed on board the aircraft.”

Gatwick currently states on its website FAQs: “Smoking is not permitted anywhere within the terminal building and there is no facility to smoke once through security. Smoking of e-cigarettes is also not permitted anywhere in the terminal building.”

Figures from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) show that e-cigarette consumption has grown rapidly, with an estimated 1.3 million users in 2013. In June, the MHRA announced that all products containing nicotine, including e-cigarettes, are to be regulated as medicines to make them safer.

While the majority of those Skyscanner surveyed favoured “vaping zones” within airports, only one in five said that the use of e-cigarettes should be allowed anywhere in the airport building.

In addition, less than half of travellers – 40 per cent – said “vaping zones” should be allowed onboard aircraft. If they did exist, 64 per cent of smokers said they would consider buying and using e-cigarettes while flying.

In August, three cruise lines announced that they would ban the smoking of standard cigarettes on private balconies, limiting them to designated areas out on deck.

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Tags: heathrow

Photo Credit: A man uses an E-cigarette, an electronic substitute in the form of a rod, slightly longer than a normal cigarette, in this illustration picture taken in Paris, March 5, 2013. Christian Hartmann / Reuters