Why do Planes have Ashtrays?
If smoking on planes is illegal, why are they still equipped with ashtrays?
While most of us know that smoking on planes is illegal, many of us aren’t exactly sure why aircrafts still have ashtrays, but did you actually know that there is a reason why airplanes are indeed, purposefully made with ashtrays in the lavatories?
If you’re anything like me you just assumed that the reason there are ashtrays in planes despite the signs indicating that smoking is prohibited, is because the planes must have been built prior to the no-smoking law being instituted. You may also be just as surprised to learn that this is not the case!
In fact, according to the Code of Federal Regulations for Airworthiness:
Do people really smoke on planes?
So while smoking on airplanes has technically been illegal since 2000, the aircraft industry is required to build planes that are equipped with at least one ashtray in the lavatory of the plane, because not all passengers are inclined to obey this law! As hard as it is to believe, on rare occasions some people do actually smoke on planes, and when they do the aircraft industry has learned the hard way that its best to be prepared.
And there actually is precedent for smoking-related plane emergencies, and even some disasters. For example in 1973, a Boeing 707 aircraft flight from Rio de Janeiro came to a horrific end after crashing and killing all passengers on board, after someone threw a lit cigarette into the trashcan which resulted in the plane catching on fire (Aviation Safety Network)
“Regardless of whether smoking is allowed in any other part of the airplane, lavatories must have self-contained, removable ashtrays located conspicuously on or near the entry side of each lavatory door, except that one ashtray may serve more than one lavatory door if the ashtray can be seen readily from the cabin side of each lavatory served.”
According to aviation flight records, the smoke filling the cabin made it impossible for crew to see the instruments which necessitated an emergency landing that was not successful.
What’s the real reason for ashtrays on planes?
The act of smoking on a plane is especially careless because one hot ash particle could literally end up taking the whole plane down. Since there is no where for smoke to escape when trapped in an aircraft traveling 30,000 feet above the ground, once a cigarette is lit on a plane it immediately becomes incredibly dangerous with no safe place to put the ashes. So why in the world would we put ashtrays in planes to seemingly encourage people to light cigarettes on a plane?
Well believe it or not, the logic behind still having ashtrays on planes is that since we cannot completely eliminate the cases of people smoking on planes we must therefore, have ashtrays as a precaution so that the cigarette and ashes do not end up the paper-filled trashcan and causing a fatal fire. In other words, ashtrays are not present on planes to encourage people to smoke, rather they are there in case people do smoke, to protect the other passengers and the plane itself.