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E-Cigarettes Comped on Charter Flights

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In an episode of Louie, a 42-year-old Louis CK tries to impress a young lady who's turned on by older men. While in the throes of passion, she asks him to describe just how old he is. He runs down the list: He voted for Dukakis, he's older than most baseball players, and he remembers when people could smoke on planes. Though the smoking ban happened in stages throughout the '80s, the 26-year-old moans, "God, that's so old!"

At this point, it's generally accepted that passengers can't light up no matter how short a flight is. Folks aboard charter flights may smoke, but only if a non-smoking section is available. As such, smoke fiends must face the unpleasant nic fits or chew some gum if they're going to make it through the trip.

However, Jason Healy -- president of Blu Cigs -- hopes to provide a solution.

His company manufactures smokeless, tobacco-free e-cigarettes. The devices are battery-operated atomizers, roughly the size and shape of cigarettes, that warm a flavored liquid and turn it into vapor. The vapor contains nicotine, so smokers are able to enjoy long, smooth pulls off the e-cigarette without bothering those around them.

In hopes that commercial flights would soon allow e-cigarettes, Healy has teamed up with charter jet company Global Exec Aviation of Long Beach and permitted free samples to be given out on charter flights.

"Definitely it's the first step," he told USA Today. "It's largely to gather feedback ... and just highlight the fact it's an option."

Although the FAA and other industry officials leave it up to individual carriers to decide whether tobacco-free devices are permitted on board, no company seems to be willing to give the e-cigarettes a chance. Spokespeople from American Airlines and Southwest can't see past the word cigarette.

Jason Holi, an operations manager for Global Exec Aviation, doesn't see a major issue with Blu Cigs.

"We're in a customer-service industry," Holi says. "If I have a passenger who's a white-knuckle flier but a heavy chain smoker, I want to make it as accommodating as possible for him."

And believe me, having been on cross-country flights, e-cigarette vapor would be a welcome change from some of the odors I've experienced en route.
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