Should Electronic Cigarettes Be Excluded from New Non Smoking Rules on Cruise Ships?

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

no smoking on cruise ship balconiesOnce upon a time, cruise passengers were able to smoke fairly liberally on ships. The cruise lawyers at our firm remember a time when lines had specific ships in their fleet designated as smoking ships while others were non-smoking vessels. Onboard those that did allow smoking, passengers had several options where they could light up a cigarette or cigar without hassle, even inside their staterooms. Now, most ships have only limited areas designated for smoking, including sections of the lido deck and certain bars, along with balcony cabins.

However, as the cruise industry continues to get criticized over its lack of attention to passenger needs and safety, an increasing number of lines have opted to change their onboard smoking policies, including Disney Cruise Line, which has banned all smoking products from balcony cabins beginning on November 15. Disney has even gone as far as to impose a $250 fine on cruise guests who violate the smoking rule, which is intended on covering maintenance and cleaning costs.

But what do passengers think? Are most cruise travelers onboard with the idea of limiting or banning smoking altogether on ships? A recent Cruise Critic survey has the answer.

According to an article by ABC News regarding the Cruise Critic survey earlier this month, the poll examined the different options cruisers have when it comes to smoking on vessels. Approximately 500 travelers were surveyed, but the results were largely unexpected. The survey reveled that 54 percent of cruisers believe that smoking should be banned on cabin balconies and 25 percent of cruisers surveyed believe that smoking should be banned on cruise ships entirely.

It seems as though the majority of cruise travelers actually prefer a smoke-free cruising environment, but what about all the other smokers? Moreover, what about travelers who smoke electronic cigarettes? Do they get a say? According to a leading electronic cigarette company, they should.

Nicolites, a manufacturer of the revolutionary new electronic cigarette, or “e-cigarette,” responded to the survey regarding smoking on cruise ships and believes the tobacco-free alternative is ideal for smokers who are prohibited from lighting up while on the high seas.

The non-tobacco cigarette alternative contains purified liquid nicotine and a vaporizing mechanism and comes in a variety of flavors and strengths. There are no carcinogens in the product, which means no harm is inflicted on either the smokers themselves or others around them.

“Although the smoking policies of various destinations and cruise ships should be looked at in detail, e-cigarettes are not lit and do not contain tobacco, so are often exempt from the smoking ban,” explained a representative of the e-cigarette company.

In the UK, Nicolites is a big hit. The company’s e-cigarettes are the most popular and widely available in the nation. But neither Nicolites nor other electronic cigarettes are favored by the cruise industry.

Though some lines, like Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises, allow passengers to smoke e-cigs, others, like Celebrity Cruises and Oceania, restrict use of the vaporizing cigarettes to regular designated smoking areas.

Is this fair? Some electronic cigarettes don’t even emit any vapors. It’s as if the user was just puffing regular air. But to the misinformed cruise line and to the guests who are often offended by e-cigarette users, despite the fact that no harmful toxins are being emitted, e-cigs are just as bad as regular ones.

According to Princess, passengers are free to smoke electronic cigarettes anywhere onboard, except for the dining areas and the theater. But even in areas where the e-cigs are permitted, the company asks that e-cig smokers turn off their devices if another passenger becomes uncomfortable. P&O allows e-cig smoking in all areas, as long as they are the kind that doesn’t emit water vapor.

But for many other cruise lines, e-cigs aren’t even mentioned in their smoking policies, though the product has been around for several years now. If lines are intolerant toward regular cigarettes, should they be expected to tolerate electronic cigarettes?

Right now, most cruise lines permit regular smoking in designated areas. Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line are the only lines that permit smoking on balconies.

While some argue that ‘vaping’ is a way for smokers, former smokers and non-smokers to reach a middle ground, others cringe at the mere thought of anything even remotely resembling a cigarette.

In the United States, the number of smokers is decreasing, especially when it comes to the younger generations. However, statistics show that one in four adult Americans still smoke. As far as cruise passengers go, many travelers are from other countries where smoking is much more tolerated. Itineraries that feature stops in Europe and Asia are much more likely to host passengers who enjoy smoking. Yet, even in countries like France and Italy, where smoking seems to be as common as drinking coffee, governments have banned indoor smoking entirely.

So should electronic cigarettes be allowed on all cruise ships? It’s a tough one. Though passenger needs and wants should be a priority, the e-cigarettes are not harmful. This is an issue that won’t likely be resolved anytime soon or unanimously, but it will be interesting to see if cruise lines will adopt a stricter attitude toward all smoking – fake or not – as the industry moves toward adopting a safer and more ‘family friendly’ attitude.

If you are a user of non-tobacco smokeless cigarettes the best course to take is to contact the line before your cruise and get an answer from them in writing as to their particular position on the type of non-tobacco smokeless cigarettes and to then take that response with you on your cruise.  That said, the vapors that some of these non-tobacco smokeless cigarettes emit are sometimes scented and can be offensive to or even cause allergic type reactions in fellow passengers close enough to inhale the vapors, so your best bet is to take an oral or patch type nicotine product on your cruise for your addiction to nicotine and to take a “ fake cigarette “ old fashion plastic cigarette look alike, if you also have an oral fixation or a need to do something with your hands.