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Lighters and Airplanes: Part III

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Boy, this just won’t go away.

I thought we’d finished with it on January 26 and I was certain February 18 was definitely the last time I’d be revisiting the subject.

But no, here it’s March and like a bad penny it just keeps turning up.

On December 17, 2004 President Bush signed into law the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which contained a provision banning cigarette lighters on U.S. airplanes after February 14, 2005.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) couldn’t get its ducks in a row quite that quickly, it turned out: the ban was pushed back, to begin this coming April 14.

The TSA planned to prohibit matches as well (current policy allows a passenger to carry on up to four books of matches).

However, the TSA was unsuccessful in banning matches: the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) resisted the inclusion of matches in the prohibition (matches were not addressed in last year’s law banning lighters).

The OMB said the TSA needs to complete a cost-benefit analysis of banning matches first.

Starting April 14, lighters will be confiscated by screeners.

Lighters have long been prohibited from being packed in checked luggage, since they contain flammable liquid.

Matches, however, continue to be allowed in checked luggage, as well as apparently surviving for the time being as authorized carry-on.

The question of what to do about smoking lounges has arisen, what with the coming tightening.

Should matches be banned as well, some have proposed wall-mounted cigarette lighters.

Why not wall-mounted cigarettes?

You’d have puffing stations, where you’d insert your cigarette of choice and light it, sort of like with a car lighter.

The question about what to do with foreign travelers transiting the U.S. who have legally brought lighters from abroad has also arisen.

The confiscation of swish Dunhill and Cartier lighters will light a real fire should they pick the right — or wrong — person.

Can you imagine Catherine Deneuve being hauled off for intensive questioning?

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