Can You Bring Tobacco On A Plane? (through TSA)

credit: Yay

Traveling via an airplane can be a daunting experience. Never mind that you are 35,000 feet in the air – the real stress is getting there on time, making sure you have your paperwork and passports ready, and whether you may bring certain items on the plane.

On domestic flights in the US, flyers are allowed to carry any amount of tobacco on their person or their checked luggage. When returning to the US, you may carry either 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars, and you must check your port of entry for restrictions on loose tobacco products.  

Can You Bring Cigars On A Plane?
Can You Bring Cigarettes On A Plane?
Can You Take a Lighter or Matches with You on a Plane?

Smokers certainly worry about bringing tobacco on a plane, and understandably so. Maybe you’re traveling to a country where tobacco is exceptionally expensive, or perhaps you have a very long layover, and you would like to step out for a smoke without stopping at the duty-free shops.

Regardless of your reasons, if you bring tobacco on a plane, be sure to do it legally! Extra fees are the last thing you want when starting off on your trip or returning from one.

Can You Bring Tobacco On A Domestic (US) Flight?

In the United States, the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, establishes the rules regarding items that are allowed or restricted on planes. Likewise, they also decide on how much tobacco you can bring back from international flights.

Other than the rules set by the TSA, individual states also have restrictions regarding how much tobacco is allowed on a person when getting on or off a flight. Sometimes, it will be necessary to

Flyers can carry tobacco and tobacco-related products in their checked luggage and hand luggage (carry-on bags). Domestic flights allow US travelers to carry any number of cigarettes or other tobacco products. 

However, it is important to note that you are not allowed to smoke on airplanes, including vaping. The rule is imposed due to second-hand smoke that may harm other passengers.

To many, it may even seem strange to think that smoking was ever allowed on airplanes judging by all the “no-smoking” signs that have become commonplace on aircraft and in airports.

What Are the US Restrictions On Smokeless Tobacco?

Tobacco users may wonder if they are allowed to consume smokeless tobacco products such as snuff on an airplane. While TSA and other authorities do not impose rules against this, and you are allowed to bring these items on board, most airlines have banned the use of these products.

Therefore, it is best to double-check the rules of your airline to ensure that you comply with them; otherwise, you may face hefty fines or even a ban from future flights.

Regarding paraphernalia, you are allowed one regular lighter (like a Bic or a Zippo) or one pack of safety matches on you or in your carry-on bag. Your cigarette lighters may, however, not be kept in your checked luggage. Conversely, cigar cutters may only be kept in checked luggage.

What Are The Tobacco Restrictions When Returning To The US?

When returning to the US from another country, you are allowed to carry a maximum of 200 cigarettes (i.e., one carton) and 100 cigars.

If you want to travel with loose tobacco products – including pipe tobacco, rolling tobacco, snuff, and chewing tobacco – see your specific US port of entry restrictions since these usually change between states and airports.

You will usually be safe to import smaller amounts of loose tobacco and cigarettes. However, as soon as you start importing amounts larger than a carton of cigarettes, 100 cigars, or, let’s say, 500g of rolling tobacco, you may start facing hefty fines and import taxes.

When returning on flights from overseas US territories, such as American Samoa, Guam, the US Virgin Isles, or the Northern Mariana Islands, you may import up to 5 cartons of cigarettes. The limit amounts to 1,000 cigarettes per person.

You may still be taxed on these cigarettes, subject to authorities’ judgment. Note that Trump’s administration resumed the ban on Cuban cigars, and importing these on your person is illegal.

Can You Bring Tobacco On International Flights?

The restrictions on traveling with tobacco on international flights are quite different. Similar to the TSA, foreign countries have their administrative bodies regulating items allowed on a plane.

It is important to abide by each country’s restrictions on these products if you want to avoid paying hefty fines and taxes. Therefore, you should research before leaving for an overseas trip and double-check between flights if you’re traveling between many countries.

Luckily, many countries are quite clear about their restrictions on incoming and outgoing travelers regarding a tobacco allowance. Here is a compilation of the limits that some of the most popular destinations have on tobacco and tobacco-related products upon which no customs duty will be charged.

How Much Tobacco Can One Carry Into The UK?

  • 200 cigarettes
  • Or 100 cigarillos (mini cigars weighing around 3 grams)
  • Or 50 cigars
  • Or 250 grams (about 8.8 oz) of loose tobacco
  • Or any proportionate combination of the above

How Much Tobacco Can One Carry Into The EU?

  • 200 cigarettes
  • Or 100 cigarillos
  • Or 50 cigars
  • Or 250 grams of loose tobacco
  • Or any proportionate combination of the above
  • Any excess over the amounts above will result in the individual incurring customs duty

As you can see, the UK and EU tobacco allowances are essentially the same. Furthermore, when traveling within the EU and between the EU and UK, travelers can carry any amount of tobacco since taxes have already been paid justly (given that the tobacco is for personal use).

EU/UK Customs officials may ask for your motivation to carry such an amount when it exceeds the following:

  • 800 cigarettes
  • Or 400 cigarillos
  • Or 200 cigars
  • Or 1kg (35 oz) of tobacco

How Much Tobacco Can One Carry Into Australia?

  • One sealed packet of cigarettes containing a maximum of 25 cigarettes
  • Or 25 grams of tobacco-related products (including cigars, cigarillos, etc.)
  • And one opened packet of cigarettes.

How Much Tobacco Can One Carry Into Brazil?

  • 200 cigarettes
  • 25 cigars
  • 250 grams of loose tobacco
  • Unlike the previous countries where you had to choose a proportionate amount between the different tobacco-related products, limits are levied against individual tobacco products only. Therefore, you can take all of the above without incurring customs obligations.

How Much Tobacco Can One Carry Into Canada?

  • 200 cigarettes
  • 50 cigars
  • 200 grams of loose tobacco
  • 200 tobacco sticks
  • Once again, these are mutually exclusive, and you may take all of the above

How Much Tobacco Can I Carry Into Other Territories?

Tobacco restrictions differ between countries, so it’s best to always do your due diligence before leaving with large amounts of tobacco. Also, remember your destination country’s laws about the legal smoking age.