Congressman Boldly Vapes During Hearing On E-Cigs

By McCarton Ackerman 02/12/16

A California congressman made headlines on Thursday by brazenly vaping during a congressional hearing on e-cigarettes.

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Congressman Boldly Vapes During Congressional Hearing On E-Cigs

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) was visibly not on board with a proposed amendment that looks to ban the use of all vaping products on commercial flights. During the Transportation Committee meeting, he sparked laughter by taking a puff and announcing, “This is a vaporizer. There’s no combustion, no carcinogens.” He also praised e-cigs for helping him quit smoking and said that vaping was the future of drug use.

“In the next decade or so, you’re going to be able to inhale your ibuprofen, you’re going to be able to inhale your Prozac,” said Hunter. “Anything else you need drug-wise, you’re going to be able to inhale it.” His vaping during the hearing quickly became GIF-able and made the rounds on Twitter, with one user declaring that Hunter is “Chairman of the Chill-Ass Dude Committee.”

But despite the entertainment value of his protest, it fell on deaf ears. The amendment was approved by a margin of 33-26. The hearing cited a 2014 study from the FDA, which concluded that e-cigs “contained detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals to which users could potentially be exposed.”

The relatively narrow margin meant there was plenty of protest by several representatives at the hearing. Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (PA – R) declared afterwards that legislators would next try to “ban bad breath.”

This marks the latest blow against the e-cigarette industry when it comes to flying. Last October, the Department of Transportation banned e-cigarettes and all other forms of electronic nicotine delivery in checked luggage. They cited a U.S. Fire Administration report that showed at least two dozen e-cig related explosions and fires since 2009, two of which came from checked luggage on planes. The most recent incident came in January 2015 at LAX, when a checked bag that missed its connection flight caught on fire due to an overheated e-cig.

“We know from recent incidents that e-cigarettes in checked bags can catch fire during transport,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. “Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous. Banning e-cigarettes from checked bags is a prudent safety measure.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.