Everyone asks: why the ashtrays on planes?

Despite smoking being banned on flights, regulations require planes still have ashtrays on board.
Despite smoking being banned on flights, regulations require planes still have ashtrays on board. Photo: AFP

WHEN SMOKING IS PROHIBITED ON AIRCRAFT, WHY DO THEY STILL HAVE ASHTRAYS IN THE TOILETS?

Although smoking has been banned on all flights for more than a decade, even the newest generation aircraft are required to have ashtrays.

The US Code of Federal Regulation for airworthiness states "Regardless of whether smoking is allowed in any other part of the airplane, lavatories must have self-contained, removable ashtrays located conspicuously on or near the entry side of each lavatory door."

A similar ruling applies in the European Union, the other major manufacturer of commercial aircraft.

So it is that ashtrays can be found on the inside of every aircraft toilet door, usually accompanied by a sticker that shows a burning cigarette with a red slash through the middle.

Weird as it seems to have an ashtray where smoking is expressly forbidden, it comes from a wise appreciation of human foibles. We do things we aren't supposed to.

Regardless of the prohibition, the lights throughout the cabin that indicate "no smoking" and the smoke detectors fitted in aircraft toilets, someone will from time to time light up.

Aircraft have crashed, and passengers have died, as a result of fires that were started by burning cigarettes tossed into the trash bin in aircraft toilets.

Better to have a non-complier break the rules and stub out in the ashtray than risk them disposing of a smouldering cigarette in the highly combustible material in the waste paper bin.

Comments