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TSA to Relax Regulations on Cosmetic Liquid Container Sizes

Posted: October 30, 2008

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says it will liberalize regulations that limit the size of cosmetic liquids to containers of 3 oz. or smaller on flights. In its Web site blog, the organization says it expects the current regulations will be relaxed by the end of 2009, allowing passengers to carry normal-sized shampoo bottles, skin care products and other larger personal care items on board, but still in separate bags.

The TSA says that the move is thanks to a new generation of X-ray equipment that can now be used to assess the contents of liquid containers with far greater accuracy, determining "threat" and "non-threat" liquids. The organization says that by the end of 2010, the widespread use of this X-ray equipment will mean that there will be no restrictions to carrying liquids on board aircraft.

Recently, national security expert Jeffrey Goldberg criticized the $7 billion annual budget devoted to the TSA, claiming that the measures it had in place to prevent security breaches were "designed to catch stupid terrorists."

In response to this kind of criticism, the latest move by the TSA should be well received by cosmetic and fragrance players, particularly those marketing upscale mass-market and luxury products. The current restrictions were sparked by a foiled terrorist bomb attack on a trans-Atlantic flight back in 2006.

Initially airport security organizations on both sides of the Atlantic introduced total bans on taking liquids on board flights, later relaxing the regulation to allow smaller liquid containers. Cosmetic players claim that the initial ban and the ensuing confusion impacted sales of duty-free products. This has spelled problems for many of the up-market players, which derive a significant amount of their annual turnover from airport duty-free sales.