TAMPA — The confusing debate over the safety and use of e-cigarettes is being waged at the local, state and national levels. The next battleground may be the nation's airports.
Though airlines do not allow e-cigarettes, many of the nation's largest airports do, according to a recent report in USA Today. That includes Tampa International Airport.
E-cigarettes are small, battery-powered devices that turn nicotine and other chemicals into a vapor that users inhale. Manufacturers say it's a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes that doesn't produce secondhand smoke. The FDA does not regulate them, but that could change. In 2009, the agency said it detected toxic chemicals in samples.
USA Today reported that e-cigarettes are allowed in Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport, Miami International Airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va.
Tampa International also allows them, but only because the airport has no specific policy addressing e-cigarettes, according to airport spokeswoman Emily Nipps. But she said the airport will review its policy, which is what Miami International is doing.
Los Angeles International Airport, Philadelphia International Airport and San Francisco International Airport treat e-cigarettes like other tobacco products, restricting their use to designated smoking areas.