March 2, 2016 12:35 PM EST

The U.S. Department of Transportation banned the use of electronic cigarettes on commercial flights Wednesday. Traditional tobacco cigarettes have long been prohibited on flights, but it was unclear whether that ban also applied to e-cigs until now.

“This final rule is important because it protects airline passengers from unwanted exposure to aerosol fumes that occur when electronic cigarettes are used onboard airplanes,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a press release. “The Department took a practical approach to eliminate any confusion between tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes by applying the same restrictions to both.”

Studies show e-cigarette aerosol can contain harmful chemicals, according to the DOT. The department says children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems could suffer if they were exposed to these chemicals in the confined space of an airplane cabin.

The ban applies to all scheduled flights by U.S. and foreign carriers traveling in, to and from the U.S., as well as charter flights by carriers that require the presence of a flight attendant.

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