After a fire that was believed to have been started by an electronic cigarette occurred at Boston’s Logan Airport last weekend, airport officials said they hope federal authorities would consider further restrictions for the devices.
WCVB reports that Ed Freni, director of aviation at the Massachusetts Port Authority, said the e-cigarette was packed in a passenger’s checked luggage and burned a small hole in the bag. If it had not been detected by a baggage handler who smelled smoke, the situation could have been far more serious.
E-cigarettes are battery-operated products designed to deliver flavor, nicotine and other chemicals to the user, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. Most devices, which usually look like conventional cigarettes or cigars, turn liquid nitrogen solution into vapor, and are generally powered by lithium-ion batteries.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) currently considers e-cigarettes personal devices that are allowed on planes, much like other battery-powered items such as cellphones and laptop computers. They cannot be used during flight, however, and all lithium-ion batteries must be protected from damage or accidental activation.
Freni told WCVB that he did “not think enough attention had been paid to potential fire safety issues around e-cigarettes.”
Though MassPort reportedly points to an e-cigarette as the culprit for the fire, the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services said the cause had not yet been determined.
Lithium-ion batteries have been linked to a number of plane and vehicle accidents , but the US Department of Transportation, which regulates items that are deemed hazardous on planes, is reportedly not considering further restrictions on personal devices.
The trade groups representing e-cigarettes, the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, Massachusetts Port Authority, and The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services could not immediately be reached for comment.