The U.S. Transportation Department announced on Wednesday it has banned the use of electronic cigarettes on commercial flights.

The rule applies to all scheduled flights by U.S. and foreign carriers involving transportation in, to and from the United States, the department said in a statement.

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"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.

The Transportation Department said it took the action to eliminate any confusion over whether its existing ban on smoking on flights includes electronic cigarettes.