The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA), and CEI employee Gordon Cummings today will file a lawsuit challenging a recent U.S. Department of Transportation regulation that bans the use of electronic cigarettes on planes.
The lawsuit alleges that DOT has no authority to issue such a ban and that the agency is illegally rewriting congressional law.
“Congress never gave regulators the power to prohibit e-cigarette use aboard aircraft,” said CEI Fellow Marc Scribner. “The Department of Transportation is inventing authority it clearly does not have. Anyone concerned about government overreach should be worried by this abuse of power. Fundamentally, this is a rule of law issue.”
Julie Woessner, Executive Director of the 140,000-member CASAA organization, stated: “It would be one thing if DOT had the legal authority to issue this rule. In that case, CASAA would dispute its logic, but we wouldn’t be in court challenging its legality. But, in fact, Congress never gave DOT any authority to regulate vaping on airplanes. CASAA opposes DOT’s illegal use of imaginary powers to further an anti-vaping agenda.”
In 1989, Congress authorized DOT to issue rules banning in-flight smoking. But, as DOT itself admitted when it first proposed to ban in-flight e-cigarette use over four years ago, electronic cigarettes involve neither combustion nor smoke.
Until the final rule, issued in mid-February, airlines were free to voluntarily prohibit vaping aboard their aircraft, and most did. In CEI’s view, the airlines’ ban means that DOT’s rule is not only illegal but unnecessary.
Related blog post: CEI Challenges Illegal “Vapes on a Plane” Regulation