Buying Cigarettes
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Should electronic cigarettes be banned on airplanes?

A flight out of Portland, Ore., was cut short after a passenger refused to turn off his electronic cigarette, the Oregonian reported.

The man turned on his e-cigarette shortly after his plane took of from Portland International Airport en route to Houston Tuesday, authorities told the paper.

"He was asked to not do that and was not cooperative," said Steve Johnson, a spokesman for the Port of Portland.

The man's flight returned to Portland less than an hour after it departed and was met by law enforcement, Continental spokeswoman Christen David said.

The man, whose name is being withheld, was detained and questioned by airport and federal authorities, Johnson told the Oregonian. An FBI spokeswoman said the man was expected to face formal charges.

E-cigarettes are plastic and metal devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution in a disposable cartridge, creating vapor that the "smoker" inhales. A tiny light on the tip even glows like a real cigarette. They have prompted debate over how risky they are and whether they're even legal.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says the devices should not be permitted on airplanes but has yet to ban them outright.

"We see no reason to treat electronic cigarettes any differently than traditional cigarettes," the department wrote in September, when they submitted their proposal to ban them.

Continental Airlines, however, bans "the use of electronic, simulated smoking materials" including cigarettes, pipes and cigars on its flights.

Although Health Canada has not approved the sale of e-cigarettes in this country, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority has not expressly banned them. Air Canada allows them on flights "provided they remain stowed and unused in your carry-on baggage."

Published: Thursday, February 23, 2012

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