Ashtrays on planes…

Anyone who has taken a plane in the last 10 years around the world had a nice little message telling you that you are not allowed to smoke on board. And for those traveling on a US airline will have had the extra little bonus about the federal offense and that you will get sentenced to death in case you tamper with the detection device.

On a recent plane from Asia back to Canada, on board of a very recent 777 that had a completely updated interior, I got this message again. So can someone tell me why there is actually an ashtray in the lavatory, especially if it is placed just below the big “No Smoking in Lavatory” sign:

I can understand an ashtray in very old planes (those that are over 10 years old and that didn’t go through a complete overhaul since). But on a very modern one, I have to say that this evades me completely! Perhaps they are expecting the regulation to change, just as this is becoming the case with cell phones and wireless devices for Internet access.

Update 10 March 2011: I finally got an answer from the team at the AirplaneGeeks Podcast – here is the link to the episode with the answer: