Only Now Has China Banned Pilots Smoking On Commercial Flights

Many airlines ban smoking entirely on an aircraft. Rightly so, smoking can make the environment on a plane dangerous.

There has been one notable exception: China. Smoking in the cockpit is not outright banned. Up until now, Chinese airlines were notorious for pilots smoking during flight.

It seems now that the Civil Aviation Administration of China, or CAAC for short, is taking a stand against pilot smoking. They have directed airlines to initiate bans on smoking for pilots now. Ultimately, this will be a big change for Chinese airlines.

Smoking on Planes

It was not too long ago that smoking was a part of traveling. Many airlines had a smoking section in their aircraft.

As the public health debate about smoking progressed, there came some actions in the airline industry. In the United States, smoking was banned on airlines by a new law in 1987. By 2000, all flights in the United States prohibited smoking. Smoking by pilots was also phased out. Nowadays, every major airline in the United States bans smoking. Likewise, smoking is not allowed on any passenger flight operated by a major air carrier.

Only Now Has China Banned Pilots Smoking On Commercial Flights
The no smoking sign is a familiar sight on planes. Photo: Wikipedia

You may notice that aircraft still have ashtrays near the lavatory along with a no smoking sign. The reason is purely for passenger safety. Should a passenger be caught smoking, there has to be a place to stub out the cigarette. Trash bins are filled with waste paper or plastic that is liable to catch fire.

Chinese Airlines

Flying with a Chinese carrier does not include smoking rights for passengers onboard. The sign is still present and there are explicit regulations prohibiting passengers from smoking.

With this new ban, however, the safety of passengers onboard a Chinese airline will increase. There are three major airlines in China. The three combined make up the largest airlines in Asia.

China is a large market for aviation. There are also a lot of smokers in China. A majority of China’s population does smoke. Some of those smokers are also pilots.

Only Now Has China Banned Pilots Smoking On Commercial Flights
China Southern is the largest airline in China. Photo: Wikipedia

With airlines as large as China Southern, Air China, and China Eastern, it remains to be seen how this ban will be implemented. Ultimately, there may be some concerns with pilots facing nicotine withdrawal inflight- especially on long-haul routes from Guangzhou, Beijing, or Shanghai to Europe or North America.

Only Now Has China Banned Pilots Smoking On Commercial Flights
China Eastern is a Skyteam member. Photo: Wikipedia

There are plenty of nonsmoking remedies pilots could safely engage in. At the same time, it would be interesting to see if the percentage of smoking pilots in China decreases.

Only Now Has China Banned Pilots Smoking On Commercial Flights
Air China is the flag carrier of China. Photo: Wikipedia

Ultimately, this decision is a good one and should be welcomed by a large majority of passengers. Better late than never is a good motto to apply to the situation. In any case, a safe flight is a good flight.

What are your thoughts on the ban? Have you ever flown with a smoking pilot? Let us know in the comments below!