California Congressman Duncan Hunter is unhappy that Democrats want to prohibit the use of vaporizers and e-cigarettes on airplanes. So to make his point that vaping should be allowed during flights, Hunter pulled out a vaporizer during a House committee hearing on February 11, and blew a cloud of tobacco vapor into the air. As the vapor drifts away, a colleague seated next to him can be seen frantically fanning the air to get rid of it.
Hunter pulled the stunt to make his point that Democrats are overreaching in their desire to ban the use of vaporizers during commercial airline flights. He said:
There’s no combustion. There’s no carcinogens. This has helped thousands of people quit smoking. It’s helped me quit smoking.
Hunter is partially right. There’s no combustion, and yes, almost everyone agrees that vaping is safer than smoking. But the operative word is “safer,” not “safe.” By saying that there are no carcinogens in the cloud of vapor that is emitted when a user exhales, he is suggesting that vaporizing tobacco is 100 percent safe. And nothing could be further from the truth.
For those who still may not understand the science behind vaping, here’s a quick primer. A vaporizer is designed to heat a substance, typically tobacco or marijuana, or liquids containing the active ingredients in them, to a point lower than the point of combustion, but high enough to cause the volatile oils and chemicals in the substance to vaporize. That vapor is then inhaled. Because the material being vaporized doesn’t burn, there are no dangerous combustion by-products. But eliminating those by-products doesn’t mean that there is no harm in vaping.
Joe Kasper, Hunter’s Chief of Staff, sent the following statement to The Daily Caller:
The fact that an amendment was offered to ban vaporizers amid other products goes to show how much some members of congress have to learn about vaping and the benefits it offers next to tobacco. And to say it’s no different than smoking is just nonsense. For Democrats, there’s a proxy war of sorts going on. Tougher regulations on vaping gets them closer to regulating tobacco. The tobacco industry is right to defend vaping, but to link these two as one of the same is just flat wrong.
To start with, vaping doesn’t offer any “benefits,” unless you consider “less harmful” to be the same as “beneficial.” But then, we are talking about Republicans here, and we know they don’t math or science very well. A Harvard University study confirmed that vaping tobacco releases chemicals that are known to damage lungs. So it’s probably a good idea to ban vaporizers in the same spaces where tobacco is banned. As Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio observed:
I don’t think we want to have clouds of vapor inside the aircraft. It’s not something I want to be inhaling.
Cabin air is largely recirculated inside an aircraft, which was one of the justifications given for banning smoking on flights. So if Republicans get their way, you and your children will get to enjoy Representative Hunter’s vaping along with him.
Why the big GOP interest in defending vaping and e-cigarette use on airlines? The clue is in Kasper’s statement. The tobacco industry loves vaping, because it means that they will get to keep poisoning Americans in a whole new way, in many of the places where smoking is currently banned, and the money will continue to roll in.
Here is Duncan Hunter’s vaporizer stunt, and commentary on vaping, via Stat News:
Featured image via Stat News screen capture