It is now illegal to vape for both passengers and crew on any Chinese-owned airline. Beforehand, Chinese pilots were exempt from the regulations, but that decision has been reversed.
Nobody on a Chinese airline is allowed to smoke or vape in the main cabin, restroom, and cockpit. Although pilots of Chinese airline companies were expected to be able to vape until October 2019, the authorities went back on their decision.
The ban on vaping and smoking on airlines came into effect on January 22. Serious penalties await any crewmembers that do not obey the law. The Civil Aviation Authority of China wants to take a firm stance on this controversial issue.
A notable incident that precipitated the ban
There will be periodic inspections to ensure that the new regulations are respected. Anyone who disobeys the law will receive a one-year suspension, and the sentence may be increased by up to 3 years for repeat offenders. Other crewmembers found complicit will be suspended for six months.
Why are the suspensions suddenly so severe? The answer lies in a very worrying incident reported in July 2018, when an Air China pilot decided to start vaping and accidentally turned off the air conditioning system during a Honk Kong-Dalian flight. Vapor entered the cabin and oxygen masks descended from the ceiling.
What was worse, the airline was forced to make an emergency landing before the problem was solved. Nobody was hurt, but the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority took note, and now pilots of Chinese airline companies must also heed the new regulations, for e-cigarettes are no longer allowed on board.