Duncan Hunter, the Vaping Congressman
To vape is to smoke an electronic cigarette, for those who don’t know. An e-cigarette is different from a regular cigarette, mainly because it does not contain tobacco. E-cigarettes contain a liquid that is vaporized—hence, the word vape—and inhaled. It might taste and smell like tobacco, but it’s not.
It’s true that vaping isn’t as sexy as smoking old-fashioned cigarettes. Generations of Americans were brought up smoking traditional tobacco products and to them, vaping may appear to be nothing more than a fad, set to eventually burn out. They’re wrong.
The reason why Congressman Duncan Hunter says he vapes is simple: “It’s so I don’t smoke cigarettes. I vape knowing that I’m not inhaling tobacco. Most importantly, I vape because I believe it could save my life.”
“There are millions of Americans like me, who are choosing e-cigarettes over their traditional counterpart. Now the Food and Drug Administration wants to force me and millions of others to revert to cigarettes through the issuance of new regulations. What the FDA is proposing is a date of February 15, 2007, to require approval for e-cigarettes, even if they are already being sold.”
“Not so bad, right? Wrong.”
“To comply, any company that manufactures e-cigarettes must submit an application, to include test results on health risks. These tests will cost millions of dollars for each product and put thousands of small businesses out of business.”
There’s no science behind the FDA’s proposed date. It’s completely arbitrary. This is not to say that a grandfather date shouldn’t exist, maybe one should, but there’s no other motive behind the FDA’s date othern than to deny Americans a product that is becoming a suitable replacement to cigarettes and one that is infinitely more healthy than cigarettes.
It’s hard to imagine images from past, of soldiers storming beachheads with vaping pens in their mouths, men in workshops and factories billowing clouds of vaporized smoke, or men and women in bars and social gatherings talking to each other as they vape. But this is 2015—and surely, had the technology been around then, we’re sure to see much of what we see today: Americans turning to a product that reduces their urge to put a cigarette to their lips and keeps tobacco out of their mouths and lungs.
The FDA should wise up. And if their true goal is to reduce cigarette use, then imposing a prohibition of sorts on e-cigarettes is senseless. Then again, maybe the FDA is counting on a surge in lighter sales to account for the cost—personal and financial—of their ill-conceived regulation.
Duncan Hunter pulled no punches at a Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in December of 2015 when he slammed a proposal to ban vaping on planes
“First, I’d like to say this,” Hunter said before taking a deep puff of his vaporizer. “This is a vaporizer. There’s no combustion, no carcinogens.”
A veteran of three combat deployments and a vaper himself, Hunter debated his congressional colleagues’ assertions that the device emits smoke. “There is no burning. There is nothing noxious about this whatsoever.”
Hunter’s Chief of Staff Joe Kasper said:
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.
The committee voted in favor of the amendment 33-26. Hunter has been a strong advocate for vapers, defending e-cigarettes and vaporizers as a method of tobacco harm reduction. A former smoker, Duncan has spoken eloquently about how vaping helped him turn away from smoking.
After House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi celebrated killing a rider in the Omnibus bill that would’ve saved 99 percent of e-cigarette products from prohibition, Hunter wrote to the house minority leader warning her that Democrats are only helping tobacco companies with the party’s opposition to vaping.
“Ironically, by not supporting the commercial availability of e-cigarettes, with all their advancements in recent years, you are giving your support – whether intended or not- to traditional cigarettes and other products,” wrote Hunter.
“Although you may not want to acknowledge it, e-cigarettes are a suitable alternative to cigarettes, and they could very well save my life, as well as the lives of so many Americans who are making their best effort to quit cigarettes. It is unfortunate that you are willing to deny these potentially life-saving products, and then boast about doing so.”