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Government bans e-cigarettes in airline passengers' checked bags

WASHINGTON -- A new federal rule forbids airline passengers from packing electronic cigarettes or other battery-operated electronic smoking devices in their checked bags to protect against in-flight fires.

The rule still allows e-cigarettes in carry-on bags, but passengers cannot recharge the devices while on the plane.

The Department of Transportation said there have been at least 26 incidents since 2009 in which e-cigarettes that have caused explosions or fires, including several in which the devices were packed in luggage. Usually, they have been accidentally left on or the battery short-circuits.

E-cigarette use triples among teens

At Los Angeles International Airport in January, a checked bag that arrived late and missed its connecting flight caught fire in the luggage area due to an overheated e-cigarette packed inside.

The rule goes into effect within the next two weeks.

Airlines are not the only ones concerned about e-cigarettes. Though tobacco use among teens has decreased since the 1970's, smoking remains a major public health threat and e-cigarettes are a growing concern.

As CBS News reported on Monday, a leading U.S. pediatricians' group is urging stronger regulation of both types of products to protect young people.

In new policy statements released Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products and electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, be increased to 21.

FAA warns against packing e-cigarettes in luggage

The group also called for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate e-cigarettes the same way it regulates other tobacco products. The new policy statements were presented today at the group's national conference and published online in the journal Pediatrics.

"Tobacco use continues to be a major health threat to children, adolescents and adults. The developing brains of children and teens are particularly vulnerable to nicotine, which is why the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among adolescents is so alarming and dangerous to their long-term health," Dr. Karen M. Wilson, chair of the AAP Section on Tobacco Control and section head of Pediatric Hospital Medicine at Children's Hospital Colorado, said in a statement.