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New Delhi: Aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, a heavy smoker, on Tuesday admitted having taken banned items such as matchboxes and cigarette lighters into flights, particularly after becoming a minister.

Raju told a seminar organized by bureau of civil aviation security that a lot of his matchboxes and cigarette lighters were confiscated before he became a minister.

“Once I became a minister, people stopped frisking me. I am a heavy smoker and my matchbox came along with me, which earlier used to get confiscated," Raju said. “I have not come across an incident worldwide where matchbox has become a threat."

“We need to make security less obstructive and more meaningful so that the economic activities do not get affected," the minister said.

Safety rules do not allow passengers to carry items such as lighters on board flights. Strike matches are banned both in the cabin and in checked in luggage.

“It is not that the rules are archaic. This has been in the regulations that any passenger is not allowed to take matchboxes inside the flight. My own lighters and matchboxes kept getting confiscated," Raju said. “I have not been patted down (after becoming minister). It’s going in my pocket."

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