E-cigarette (shutterstock)

As part of a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, the Senate overwhelmingly agreed to expand a federal ban on smoking on commercial air flights to include e-cigarettes.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has sought to codify into law what is already the airline industry’s practice of treating electronic cigarettes the same as other tobacco products.

He also got a provision in the bill that directs FAA to issue a rule that would set minimum standards for seat size and legroom aboard commercial flights in the United States. 

“I’m especially proud to have successfully championed and secured critical consumer protections,” Blumenthal said in a press statement.

Blumenthal pointed to four other measures in the bill that he had supported:

• Prohibiting unmanned “drone” aircraft from being weaponized

• Securing rights for disabled passengers

• Curbing airline overbooking practices

• Providing flight attendants with 10 hours of minimum rest between shifts

David Zurfluh, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America, applauded passage of the legislation that includes a “bill of rights” and an advisory panel for passengers with disabilities, as well as revised training and procedures for TSA screenings of people with disabilities.

The top complaint the PVA receives from its members is related to problems with air travel, according to Shaun Castle, who serves as the deputy executive director of PVA and is a service-disabled U.S. Army veteran. He has had his own complaints noting that his wheelchair has been bent, cracked and even lost in separate incidents.

“These are more than minor inconveniences,” Castle said. “If my wheelchair is damaged, it may mean I am stranded until I can get it repaired.”

The Senate also voted this week to send opioid legislation to President Donald Trump for his signature.