Starting August 4, cigarette lighters will no longer be banned from airplanes, according to the New York Times. The two-year-old rule was enacted after authorities claimed that the shoe bomber (Richard Reid) might have managed to detonate his feet if he’d had a lighter instead of matches.
From the NYT:
Lawmakers said that if Mr. Reid had used a lighter, instead of matches, he might have been able to ignite the bomb, but Kip Hawley, assistant secretary for the Transportation Security Administration, said in an interview on Thursday that the ban had done little to improve aviation security because small batteries could be used to set off a bomb.
Matches have never been prohibited on flights.
“Taking lighters away is security theater,” Mr. Hawley said. “It trivializes the security process.”
The policy change, which is to go into effect on Aug. 4, applies to disposable butane lighters, like Bics, and refillable lighters, like Zippos. Torch lighters, which have thin, hotter flames, will continue to be banned.
The times says the TSA had been collecting 22,000 lighters per day at various US checkpoints. By lifting the ban, Hawley hopes that agents can spend more time looking for bombs and not cigarette lighters. In addition, breast milk will be allowed on airplanes in quantities greater than 3 ounces as long as it is declared for inspection.