Durbin Commemorates 25 Years Of Smokefree Skies On The Senate Floor

Senator calls for common sense regulation of e-cigarettes as the next step in fight against Big Tobacco

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Twenty-five years after the implementation of landmark legislation to ban smoking on commercial airline flights, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take immediate action to protect young people from predatory e-cigarette marketing and distribution tactics that are straight out of Big Tobacco’s old playbook. Durbin authored the law giving airline crews the freedom to do their jobs without compromising their health and airline passengers the chance to travel for business or pleasure without inhaling secondhand smoke with every breath. 


“The effort to take smoking off airplanes led to a lot of other dramatic efforts to protect Americans from secondhand smoke and from dangerous situations. I think lives have been saved. There are so many of us who can tell family stories about losses related to lung cancer and pulmonary disease. I can tell my story. I was 14-years old-when my father died of lung cancer, and I remembered him as I started this battle,” Durbin said.


“I also wanted to make a note in the record today in the senate to salute the memory of my friend, Frank Lautenberg, who was my partner in passing this important legislation, and to remind us there are other things we can do to make this world a little better and a little safer. One of those things relate to e-cigarettes, this new product the tobacco industry is jumping up and down to market to children in America. I hope the Food and Drug Administration will step up and do their job, regulate these products – these e-cigarette products – and protect children across America.”

Video of Durbin’s statement is available here.

In 1987, the United States House of Representatives passed Durbin’s amendment to the Federal Aviation Act, making domestic flights of two hours or less smoke-free. The bill was signed by President Reagan in 1988. This led to the law making all domestic flights of six hours or less smoke-free. A decade later, Durbin passed legislation that banned all smoking on international flights taking off or landing in the United States.


While today all major airlines voluntarily ban on smoking on flights to include the use of e-cigarettes, Durbin has recently taken several steps to finalize the federal ban on e-cigarettes on airplanes. In June, Durbin, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and others sent a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) urging the ban of e-cigarettes on airplanes to protect passengers from secondhand smoke.

Durbin also introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill to require DOT to finalize the rule regarding the use of electronic cigarettes on aircraft within 90 days of enactment of the appropriations bill. Numerous organizations, including the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, endorsed Durbin’s amendment to clarify the ban on e-cigarette use on airplanes.

In April 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a rule that would expand the agency’s regulatory authority to regulate e-cigarettes and other liquid nicotine delivery devices. The proposed rule fails to prohibit marketing to minors, the use of flavors, or online sales of e-cigarettes and other nicotine delivery devices to minors. The FDA has not yet finalized these proposed regulations. Durbin has pushed the FDA to finalize their regulations for e-cigarettes by April 2015.