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Cargolux Airlines Stops Transporting Disposable Vapes

Cargolux, a Luxembourg-based airline that transports cargo across Europe, recently made headlines when it announced plans to ban the transport of disposable e-cigarettes. The decision, which was published in a press release1“Media releases,” Cargolux. https://www.cargolux.com/media/media-releases/2024/cargolux-bans-transport-of-disposable-e-cigarettes/ last week, is a direct response to the growing environmental and health concerns surrounding vapes. 

Cargolux is especially concerned about the health impact of disposables among young people, despite research showing an almost 4% decline in U.S. high school students using vape products2O. of the Commissioner, “National Survey Shows Drop in E-Cigarette Use Among High School Students,” FDA, Nov. 02, 2023. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/national-survey-shows-drop-e-cigarette-use-among-high-school-students#:~:text=The%20findings%2C%20which%20were%20collected from 2022-2023. 

Interestingly, Cargolux also claims that the lithium-ion batteries commonly found in disposable e-cigarettes are not recyclable, something that is verifiably false. It is true that only around 5% of the lithium-ion batteries in the U.S. are recycled3M. Seltzer, “A better way to recycle lithium batteries is coming soon from this Princeton startup,” Princeton University, Mar. 03, 2022. https://www.princeton.edu/news/2022/03/01/better-way-recycle-lithium-batteries-coming-soon-princeton-startup, but this is due to the complexity of the recycling process, rather than it being impossible. 

This is not the first time that air carriers have dealt a blow to the e-cigarette industry. In 2021, the U.S. branch of FedEx and UPS announced that they would stop carrying vape products by air or ground. 

Regardless, this decision has not stopped e-cigarettes from flooding the U.S. In fact, recent reports suggest that airlines are the main mode of transport for illicit e-cigarettes. Despite the FDA’s success in seizing 1.4 million e-cigs at Los Angeles airport, the sting just proved how ill-equipped they are to handle the scale of the problem. 

Cargolux is the largest all-cargo airline in Europe and the seventh-largest cargo-only airline in the world. It delivers freight to over 75 destinations, which includes 10 cities in the U.S. The far-reaching implications of the decision are unclear, but Richard Forson, President and CEO of Cargolux, hopes it will cause a ripple effect among other logistics operators. 

“The ban […] reflects Cargolux’s commitment to the environment and public health and safety. As a responsible corporate citizen, Cargolux aims for this initiative to encourage other logistics operators to adopt similar measures,” Forson said. 

As of today, the FDA has only approved 23 e-cigarettes, and none of them are disposables. Cargolux’s latest press release complies with vape legislation in the U.S., but the same can’t be said for the European destinations it delivers to. 

In April of 2022, Hong Kong established a blanket ban on importing e-cigarettes. Just a few months later, reports circulated that Hong Kong officials were considering lifting the ban amid news that the imports account for 10% of the annual export volumes by air. The value was estimated to exceed exceed CNY120bn ($17.33bn)4A. Lennane, “Boost for Hong Kong air cargo volumes as ban on vape traffic is lifted,” The Loadstar, Mar. 22, 2023. https://theloadstar.com/boost-for-hong-kong-air-cargo-volumes-as-ban-on-vape-traffic-is-lifted/

The Hong Kong Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics (HAFFA) was adamantly opposed to the ban, stating that it was “seriously detrimental”5D. Brett, “Hong Kong forwarders welcome move to lift ‘seriously detrimental’ e-cigarette ban,” Air Cargo News, Mar. 22, 2023. https://www.aircargonews.net/freight-forwarder/hong-kong-forwarders-welcome-move-to-lift-seriously-detrimental-e-cigarette-ban/ and contributed to a 30% decline in airfreight volumes through Hong Kong International Airport in January. 

It seems that Cargolux is aware of the potential profit loss. By putting ethics over profits, Cargolux has set a clear precedent for other large-scale cargo airlines. We have yet to see how other airlines will respond to this example and the ethics behind it.


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Lexi Burgess
Lexi Burgess
I keep my ear to the ground to report on Vaping, emerging health research, and new vape legislation. When the ever-changing landscape of the vape industry isn’t on my mind, I play badminton and read old horror novels.
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