Inflight smoking

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"No smoking" sign (Airbus version), as seen on most passenger flights worldwide No Smoking Sign Pakistan International Cabin.jpg
"No smoking" sign (Airbus version), as seen on most passenger flights worldwide

Inflight smoking is prohibited by almost all airlines. The bans on inflight smoking have been imposed in a piece-meal manner around the world beginning in the 1980s.


In October 2015, the United States Department of Transportation prohibited the use of electronic cigarettes on flights, as well as transporting such devices in checked luggage, [1] because of fire risk from their batteries. In July 2019, an Air China aircraft made an emergency descent after cabin oxygen levels dropped, which has been linked to a co-pilot smoking an e-cigarette during the flight. [2]

Despite this near-universal prohibition, Federal Aviation Administration regulations mandate that functioning ashtrays be conspicuously located on the doors of all airplane bathrooms. This is because there must be a safe place to dispose of a lit cigarette if someone violates the no-smoking rule. [3]


In 1969, consumer advocate Ralph Nader was among the first in the United States to call for a smoking ban on airlines. [4] [5] Pressure for an inflight smoking ban also came from flight attendants' unions, such as the Association of Flight Attendants.

United Airlines created a nonsmoking section in 1971, the first airline to do so. [6] Aurigny Air Services became the first airline to ban smoking entirely on its flights, in July 1977.

In the United States, both tobacco companies and airlines fought any regulation. [6] In 1976, the US Civil Aeronautics Board banned cigar and pipe smoking on aircraft, [7] but under pressure from tobacco interests, it sought to limit this ban in 1978. [8] Also, CAB banned and then unbanned smoking in 1984, with chairman Dan McKinnon saying, "Philosophically, I think nonsmokers have rights, but it comes into marked conflict with practicalities and the realities of life." [9] After years of debate over health concerns, [10] [11] Congressional action in 1987 led to a ban on inflight smoking. [12] [13] [14] [15] In 1988, airlines based in the United States banned smoking on domestic flights of less than two hours, [16] [17] [18] which was extended to domestic flights of less than six hours in February 1990, [19] [20] [21] and to all domestic and international flights in 2000. [22] [23] [24] [25] The 1990 ban applied to the passengers and the cabin of the aircraft, but not the flight deck; pilots were allowed to continue smoking after the 1990 ban due to concerns over potential flight safety issues caused by nicotine withdrawal in chronic smokers. [26] In 1994, Delta was the first US airline to ban smoking on all worldwide flights.

In 1990, Air Canada adopted a nonsmoking policy on all its routes. In 1994, Canada was the first country to ban smoking on all flights operated by Canadian carriers, which also covered charter flights, but not foreign airlines flying to Canada. It had previously banned smoking on commercial domestic flights in Canada and international flights of less than six hours, which obviously did not cover the Japan route. Canadian Airlines had opposed the blanket ban, saying it would put the airline at a competitive disadvantage especially on the lucrative Japan route. It said it would lose millions of dollars in business from smoking passengers. It estimated it would lose $22 million in annual revenues on its 14 flights a week to Japan. It said that three quarters of its passengers on the Japan route were Japanese and that 60% of them smoked. [27]

In March 1995, the United States, Canada, and Australia agreed to ban smoking on international flights traveling between those countries. [28]

In April 1988, Japan Airlines (JAL) was the first Japanese airline to introduce a smoking ban on domestic flights of less than one hour, which was extended in October 1990 to flights of less than two hours. [29] In 1998, All Nippon Airways and JAL banned smoking on all domestic flights, which covered more than 50% of Japanese domestic travelers. [30] These airlines extended the ban to international flights in March 1999, among the last airlines to ban smoking on international flights. [31] Japan Tobacco lobbied the airlines to reconsider the ban, noting that smoking was earlier banned on all flights of 22 foreign airlines using Japanese airports and that with the smoking ban by the two major Japanese airlines more than 80% of seats on international flights departing from Japan would be nonsmoking. [32]

In 1988, SAS made domestic flights in Sweden and Norway non-smoking and in 1989, the policy was expanded to domestic flights in Denmark and flights between the Nordic countries. In 1996, SAS flights to the Benelux countries, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the UK became non-smoke. In 1997 SAS banned smoking on all flights. Also in 1997, the EU banned smoking on flights in member states. Air France, the French state-run carrier, did not allow inflight smoking from November 2000, The United Kingdom banned smoking in enclosed public places in July 2007.

Australia banned smoking on domestic flights in December 1987, on international flights within Australian airspace in 1990, and in 1996 banned smoking on all Australian international flights.

Cuba’s state-owned Cubana banned smoking on international flights in 2014. China banned inflight smoking in October 2017. Individual airlines were given two more years before a cockpit ban was to take effect; however, this concession was scrapped in January 2019 following incidents that triggered safety concerns. [33]


Following the crash of Varig Flight 820 in 1973 the US Federal Aviation Administration banned smoking in aircraft lavatories. [34] Following a fire that originated in a lavatory (not necessarily from smoking) on Air Canada Flight 797 in June 1983, resulting in the death of 23 passengers, new requirements to install smoke detectors in lavatories were brought in.

Normally, passengers found to be smoking on non-smoking flights will, at least, face a fine and, at most, be arrested and detained upon landing. Due to stringent security measures, this often causes disruption; a flight may have to be diverted or a scheduled landing might have to be expedited upon arrival at the destination airport in order to escort the smoker from the plane.

Such regulations have on occasion met with defiance; in 2010 a Qatari diplomat was arrested upon arrival at Denver International Airport for smoking in the onboard lavatory on United Airlines Flight 663 and for making threats; when confronted by airline staff, he jokingly suggested that he was attempting to set his shoes on fire. [35]

On February 3, 2013, a family of four were accused of smoking during a Sunwing Airlines flight from Halifax to the Dominican Republic. The flight made an unscheduled landing at Bermuda L.F. Wade International Airport, where the two eldest of the family were arrested by Bermuda Police Service and subsequently sentenced to a $500 fine or 10 days in prison. [36] [37]

See also

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Tobacco smoking is the practice of burning tobacco and ingesting the smoke that is produced. The smoke may be inhaled, as is done with cigarettes, or simply released from the mouth, as is generally done with pipes and cigars. The practice is believed to have begun as early as 5000–3000 BC in Mesoamerica and South America. Tobacco was introduced to Eurasia in the late 17th century by European colonists, where it followed common trade routes. The practice encountered criticism from its first import into the Western world onwards but embedded itself in certain strata of a number of societies before becoming widespread upon the introduction of automated cigarette-rolling apparatus.

Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. (JAL), also known as Nikkō (日航), is an international airline and Japan's flag carrier, headquartered in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Its main hubs are Tokyo's Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport, as well as Osaka's Kansai International Airport and Itami Airport. JAL group companies include Japan Airlines, J-Air, Japan Air Commuter, Japan Transocean Air, and Ryukyu Air Commuter for domestic feeder services, and JAL Cargo for cargo and mail services.

Smoking ban

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Japan Airlines Flight 123 12 August 1985 plane crash in central Japan; fourth-deadliest aviation accident

Japan Airlines Flight 123 was a scheduled domestic Japan Airlines passenger flight from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to Osaka International Airport, Japan. On August 12, 1985, a Boeing 747SR operating this route suffered a sudden decompression twelve minutes into the flight and crashed in the area of Mount Takamagahara, Ueno, Gunma Prefecture, 100 kilometres from Tokyo thirty-two minutes later. The crash site was on Osutaka Ridge, near Mount Osutaka.

Pre-flight safety demonstration

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Varig Flight 820 1973 plane crash in France

Varig Flight 820 was a flight of the Brazilian airline Varig that departed from Galeão International Airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 11, 1973, for Orly Airport, in Paris, France. The plane, a Boeing 707 registration PP-VJZ, made an emergency landing on onion fields about four kilometers from Orly Airport, due to smoke in the cabin from a fire in a lavatory. The fire caused 123 deaths; there were only 11 survivors.

Smoking Practice of inhaling a burnt substance for psychoactive effects

Smoking is a practice in which a substance is burned and the resulting smoke is breathed in to be tasted and absorbed into the bloodstream. Most commonly, the substance used is the dried leaves of the tobacco plant, which have been rolled into a small rectangle of rolling paper to create a small, round cylinder called a "cigarette". Smoking is primarily practised as a route of administration for recreational drug use because the combustion of the dried plant leaves vaporizes and delivers active substances into the lungs where they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and reach bodily tissue. In the case of cigarette smoking these substances are contained in a mixture of aerosol particles and gases and include the pharmacologically active alkaloid nicotine; the vaporization creates heated aerosol and gas into a form that allows inhalation and deep penetration into the lungs where absorption into the bloodstream of the active substances occurs. In some cultures, smoking is also carried out as a part of various rituals, where participants use it to help induce trance-like states that, they believe, can lead them to spiritual enlightenment.

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Smoking in China is prevalent, as the People's Republic of China is the world's largest consumer and producer of tobacco: there are 350 million Chinese smokers, and China produces 42% of the world's cigarettes. The China National Tobacco Corporation is by sales the largest single manufacturer of tobacco products in the world and boasts a monopoly in Mainland China generating between 7 and 10% of government revenue. Within the Chinese guanxi system, tobacco is still a ubiquitous gift acceptable on any occasion, particularly outside urban areas. Tobacco control legislation does exist, but public enforcement is rare to non-existent outside the most highly internationalized cities, such as Shanghai and Beijing. Furthermore, outside the largest cities in China, smoking is considered socially acceptable anywhere at any time, even if it is technically illegal.

Smoking in Hong Kong

Tobacco smoking in Hong Kong has declined in recent decades, with 10 per cent of Hong Kongers smoking on a daily basis as of 2017. It is the policy of the Hong Kong government to discourage smoking. Smoking is banned in most public places and tobacco advertising is prohibited.

United Airlines Flight 663

The United Airlines Flight 663 incident was a "minor international incident" in 2010 involving Qatari diplomat Mohammed Yacoub Al Madadi on the leg of a United Airlines flight from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to Denver International Airport. The diplomat prompted a mid-air terrorism alert after smoking in the aircraft lavatory, which led the Qatari government to recall him two days later. United no longer uses Flight 663 as a DCA-DEN-LAS route. UA663 is now used on the Houston-Edmonton route, flown by an Airbus A320.

The majority of lifelong smokers begin smoking habits before the age of 24, which makes the college years a critical time for tobacco companies to convince college students to pick up the habit of cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking in college is seen as a social activity by those who partake in it, and more than half of the students that are users do not consider themselves smokers. This may be because most college students plan to quit smoking by the time that they graduate.

Smoking in Syria

Smoking in Syria is steadily increasing in popularity amongst the Syrian population, mainly in the forms of cigarettes or narghiles. In Syria, the General Organization of Tobacco manages the growth and exportation of tobacco products. Syrians collectively spend about $600 million per year on tobacco consumption. As of 2010, 20% of women and 60% of men smoke and 98% of the overall population is affected by passive smoking. Narghiles and cigarettes are the two main forms of tobacco consumption. Despite the assumption that smoking, specifically the narghile, is embedded in Syrian culture, this phenomenon has only recently become widespread. Health officials are currently working on smoking cessation programs and policies, to remove this idea that smoking in Syria is an essential part of the culture, to educate regarding health effects, and to prevent citizens from smoking in public places.

Tobacco is an agricultural product acting as a stimulant triggering complex biochemical and neurotransmitter disruptions. Its main ingredient is nicotine and it is present in all cigarettes. Early tobacco usage was for medical cures and religious purposes. In the 1990s, cigarette usage became increasingly popular when it was sold in mass amounts. The popularity of smoking increased and in 1964, the Surgeon General of the United States wrote a report concerning the dangers of cigarette smoking. In the United States, for the past 50 years efforts have been made so that the public should be aware of the risks of tobacco usage.

CAAC Flight 2311

CAAC Flight 2311 was a scheduled passenger flight from Changsha Datuopu Airport, in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, China, to the former Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. On 24 December 1982 it was flown by an Ilyushin Il-18B. After landing at Baiyun Airport, a fire in the cabin produced toxic smoke whereupon the crew stopped the aircraft on the runway and evacuated the passengers. The fast-developing fire killed 25 passengers and seriously injured 22 passengers and four crew members. The fire, which was started by a passenger's cigarette, destroyed the aircraft.

Smoking in North Korea

Tobacco smoking is popular and, at least for men, culturally acceptable in North Korea. As of 2014, some 45% of men are reported to smoke daily, whilst in contrast only 2.5% of women smoke daily, with most of these being older women from rural areas. Smoking is a leading cause of death in North Korea, and as of 2010 mortality figures indicate that 34% of men and 22% of women die due to smoking-related causes, the highest mortality figures in the world. There are tobacco control programs in North Korea, and although smoking was not prohibited in all public spaces, the smoking rates have declined since their peak in the 2000s.


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