A flight departing Portland International Airport this afternoon turned around after a passenger turned on an electronic cigarette and “was not cooperative” when asked to turn the device off.
The man is currently being questioned at the airport by airport and federal authorities, said Steve Johnson, a spokesman for the Port of Portland.The Continental Airlines flight departed PDX for Houston just before 12:20 p.m., Johnson said. At some point after take off, the man turned on the cigarette.”He was asked to not do that and was not cooperative,” Johnson said.
The flight returned to PDX about 1:15 p.m. and was met by local law enforcement, said Christen David, a Continental spokeswoman. The unidentified passenger was removed along with his traveling companion.
Also known as “e-cigarettes,” most electronic cigarettes do not burn tobacco. Instead, a lithium battery heats a liquid nicotine solution, which creates a vapor inhaled by the user.They often look similar to real cigarettes.Federal law prohibits passengers from smoking tobacco products on a commercial plane, but does not specifically mention e-cigarettes.
In September, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced plans to explicitly ban the devices on all domestic and commercial flights within the United States.But electronic cigarettes are currently not prohibited by the Transportation Security Administration, said spokeswoman Tina Burke.
They are, however, banned on Continental flights, as are any “electronic, simulated smoking materials” such as cigarettes, pipes or cigars, according to Continental’s website.
Johnson said it wasn’t clear if the man faced charges in connection with the incident and more information would be available later today.The other passengers departed PDX about 2 p.m.
By Kate Mather, The Oregonian