The TSA and Cigarette Regulations

By Richard Corrigan

Smoking and airplane travel

The TSA and Cigarette Regulations

As hard as it may be to believe, there was a time not so long ago when smoking on airplanes was commonplace. Those days are long gone, of course, but just because you can't smoke on a plane doesn't necessarily mean you can't take tobacco products with you when you fly. But you do have to keep a few important rules in mind when you're traveling with cigarettes or e-cigarettes.

Flying with tobacco

The Transportation Security Administration places no restrictions on tobacco, which means that you can bring tobacco products with you in your checked luggage as well as your carry-on bag. That includes cigarettes as well as cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco and other types of smokeless tobacco. Needless to say, if you try to light one up on the plane, you'll be in some pretty hot water. But it's totally fine to have cigarettes in your luggage or on your person.

E-cigarette restrictions

The increased popularity of vaping devices and electronic cigarettes has led to some new TSA rules. All vaping devices – including e-cigarettes, vaporizers, vape pens and atomizers – are permitted in the aircraft cabin only. That means you can have them on your person or in your carry-on, but not in your checked luggage. These items are prohibited in checked bags because many of them contain lithium batteries that can become dangerously overheated during flight.

Packs and cartons

The TSA doesn't restrict quantities of cigarettes, so if you'd like to take multiple packs or cartons of cigarettes with you (or bring them home), you're generally in the clear, though it's always a good idea to check with your airline. U.S. Customs and Border Protection limits the number of cigarettes you can bring into the United States from most foreign countries to 200 cigarettes, or two cartons. You can bring up to 1,000 cigarettes, or five cartons, into the United States from American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands.

Related items

If you're planning to fly with cigarettes or other tobacco products, be sure to know the rules regarding tobacco paraphernalia. Here's what you can and can't bring with you on the plane:

  • Lighters: You may carry one standard (disposable, Zippo, nontorch) lighter on your person or in your carry-on bag. The Department of Transportation prohibits fueled lighters in checked luggage, with an exemption that allows up to two fueled lighters if they are properly enclosed in a DOT-approved case. Torch-style lighters are strictly prohibited. 
  • Matches: You may have one pack of standard safety matches on your person or in your carry-on. Matches are not allowed in checked luggage. Strike-anywhere matches are prohibited in both carry-on and checked luggage. 
  • Tobacco pipes: Pipes are allowed in carry-on bags as well as checked luggage.
  • Cigar cutters: These are classified as sharp objects and are permitted in checked baggage only.

About the Author

Richard Corrigan has been a full-time professional writer since 2010. His areas of expertise include travel, sports and recreation, gardening, landscaping and the outdoors. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from SUNY Geneseo in 2009.