A Sandy, Utah man aboard Southwest Airlines Flight WN-188 from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) on Monday evening, July 11, 2011 at about 7:00 p.m. PDT became abusive after a flight attendant told him to extinguish an electronic cigarette, and responded by throwing peanuts and pretzels at the employee according to reports published on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 by WTSP-TV, the Daily Mail, the Huffington Post, E-Cigarette Forum, and other news sources.
The passenger, 42-year-old Pogos Paul Sefilian was arrested by FBI agents after the Boeing 737-500 landed in Salt Lake City at 8:53 p.m. MDT. He faces a federal charge of interference with a flight crew, and remains in police custody.
According to a complaint filed in United States District Court on Tuesday, July 12, Sefilian began using an electronic cigarette immediately after boarding the plane, and was told to put the device away.
He initially complied, but resumed smoking it again shortly after takeoff, and when confronted, became enraged. Mr. Sefilian expressed his anger by throwing the peanuts and pretzels at the flight attendant and the flight deck door.
As the aircraft prepared to land in Salt Lake City, Mr. Sefilian stood up from his seat and began opening overhead compartments, endangering the other passengers.
The flight attendant made six loudspeaker announcements for Sefilian to sit down, as stated in the federal complaint.
According to the Cigarette Review (CR) web site, many carriers do not allow electronic cigarettes to be activated on their aircraft, including Continental (CO), American (AA), Southwest (WN), Air Canada (AC), Delta (DL), AirTran, and possibly others as well. The CR site also publishes a listing of smoke free airports in the United States.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is also considering a ban of the devices on the basis that they are a fire hazard, as illustrated in the attached video clip and slide show which accompany this report.
The devices are currently allowed to be carried aboard aircraft, but not activated or smoked. There is evidence that while they do not actually produce a flame and are considered smokeless, they do generate nicotine which possibly can be absorbed by others.
An electric cigarette simulates smoking tobacco-filled cigarettes by using heat generated by a battery to produce vapor that is inhaled.
The inhaled mist is said to be similar in physical sensation, appearance, and often the flavor and nicotine content of inhaled tobacco smoke. They are designed as an aid to smoking cessation. Some former smokers feel that they are an effective tool, while others are not satisfied by their substitute benefits.
Whatever the outcome of Mr. Sefilian’s legal problems, not complying with a flight attendant is never a good idea.
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