Those furious that they won’t be able to use their e-cigarettes on planes still have one vaping U.S. congressmen on their side. California Representative Duncan Hunter brought his smoking-replacement device to life on Thursday during a Congressional hearing — billowing a cloud of vapor out over his colleagues.
The congressmen who engaged in the hazy act of civil disobedience did so while the Transport Committee mulled over an amendment that would formally ban e-cigarette use on planes. While U.S. airlines universally prohibit the in-flight use of the tobacco replacement, there is currently no federal legislation to discourage the practice. As part of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, the action protested by Duncan would do just that, reported health and medicine news source STAT.
Mid-vape, the congressman released both a lung full of e-cigarette residue and an assertion that such a move was unfair to ex-smokers who rely on the gadgets to get their nicotine fix. Hunter noted that the vapor in question does not share the same qualities that make regular smoke unappealing, and thus doesn’t warrant a ban on planes.
“There’s no combustion. There’s no carcinogens. What the gentle lady did not say is that smoking has gone as the use of vaporizes have gone up. There is no burning. There is nothing noxious about it whatsoever. This has helped thousands of people quit smoking. It’s helped me quit smoking.”
While in the midst of the same vaping under discussion, Congressman Duncan also said that such an action represented poor foresight into the strides the devices are making in medicine. What we now know as the e-cigarette, Hunter argued, could easily become a common way to streamline medicine into your system.
“And in the next decade or so, you’re going to be able to inhale ibuprofen, you’re going to be able to inhale your Prozac. Anything else you need drug-wise, you’re going to be able to inhale it… The way that this amendment is written you won’t be able to have an asthma inhaler… You won’t be able to inhale anything.”
The congressman furthered his point by saying that vaping was being unfairly stigmatized by the ban. Duncan countered that he, too, might still be a smoker if it wasn’t for the e-cigarette crutch that had allowed him to shake his old habits.
“This is the future. Smoking is going away, the ability to take in nicotine… will be in something like the vaporizer. For freedom’s sake, for people are still trying to quit smoking, to quit dipping.”
The congressman’s speech seemed a bit too vaporous for some of the other members of his committee. While even his critics conceded that e-cigarettes were an effective tool to quit smoking, Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio said that didn’t necessarily excuse him from respecting the space of his fellow passengers.
“I don’t think we want to have clouds of vapor inside the aircraft. It’s not something I want to be inhaling. [It’s something] that should be in his own private space, not in a very confined public space.”
In public places ranging from planes to restaurant, e-cigarettes have faced an uphill battle when it comes to acceptance. While many, like vaping congressman Duncan Hunter, argue that the smoke-like cloud emerging from the apparatus is not harmful, others have cited a lack of conclusive evidence proving these claims and petitioned for the same restrictions regular cigarettes face.
[Image via Dan Kitwood and Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press]