San Diego

California Congressman Vapes During Hearing on Banning Vaping on Planes

The San Diego-based Republican said e-cigarettes have helped him quit smoking

A California lawmaker turned heads at a House of Representatives hearing Thursday when he pulled out his vape pen and took a big puff, blowing out a large plume of vapor.

The unconventional move came while the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee was debating an amendment that would ban e-cigarettes on passenger airplanes. California Rep. Duncan Hunter, a former smoker, was arguing against the ban.

“There’s no combustion. There’s no carcinogens,” Duncan said to his colleagues in the chamber, who chuckled. “This has helped thousands of people quit smoking. It’s helped me quit smoking.”

The Republican representative from San Diego has been outspoken about his fondness for vaping. In December, he penned an editorial for The Hill in which he said that he believed the cigarette alternative had the potential to “save” his life.

“It’s true that vaping isn’t as sexy as smoking old-fashioned cigarettes,” he wrote. “I vape knowing that I’m not inhaling tobacco.”

Hunter’s claims, however, did not stop the committee from adopting the amendment.

The Food and Drug Administration hasn't yet determined what risks or benefits come with smoking e-cigarettes.

According to a study in Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, e-cigarettes “are by far a less harmful alternative to smoking and significant health benefits are expected in smokers who switch from tobacco to electronic cigarettes.”

But the vapor has been found to contain toxic chemicals, and studies have also demonstrated that teens who vape are more likely to try real cigarettes.

House members brought up these concerns at the hearing Thursday, while also noting that the vapor might be unpleasant to others when in a confined space, such as an airplane.

“I don’t think we want to have clouds of vapor inside the aircraft,” said Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, the committee’s ranking Democrat, according to StatNews. “It’s not something I want to be inhaling.”

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