In all of the negative publicity thrust upon electronic cigarettes these days, sometimes it’s hard to remember that there are people out there behind our right to vape. Not everyone is against us. Not everyone is in the back pocket of the pharmaceutical companies. Not everyone reads false studies manipulated by anti-vaping activists and concludes that vapor is bad for you. There are people that think critically about this too. Some of them are even members of congress. And some of those are actually vapers themselves, as evidenced by the recent debate and vote about banning vaping on flights.
Contrary to what you might assume, there is nothing against the law presently about using an electronic cigarette on an airplane. Even though the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has put out notice on the potential ecigarette dangers, most recently last year, vaping isn’t actually banned. It’s true that a great deal of airlines have forbidden their use on flights, but those are indvidual rules and not industry-wide. The argument from airlines is that the use of electronic cigarettes on a plane could be mistaken as smoke and cause panic or anger among passengers, and that this is more important than the right to vape.
Right or wrong, airlines have the power to do that at their discretion. But when an amendment was proposed in Congress’ House Transportation Committee to officially ban vaping on flights, there was pushback. However, it didn’t come in the form of vaping activists. It came from California Congressman Duncan Hunter. In defiance of the argument against the right to vape, Hunter took out his own vape pen and said to his Congressional colleagues, “First, I’d like to say this.” He then took a long drag, emitted a small cloud of vapor, and continued by saying “This is a vaporizer. There’s no combustion, no carcinogens.”
Duncan Hunter has been a strong advocate for vaping rights for some time now. Duncan Hunter is a vaper. He is also a veteran and smoker who has long struggled to get away from tobacco. Unlike many of his house colleagues, Rep. Hunter actually understands the issues.
Right To Vape Defense Valid
UNITED STATES – JANUARY 13: Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., is interviewed about his vaporizer pen in his Rayburn office, January 13, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
Now, if you are a vaper that probably filled you with pride. If any of us could, we would do the same thing in defending our right to vape. It means something greater coming from a member of Congress, especially in such a vivid fashion. Congresswoman Eleanor Homes from Washington D.C., the sponsor of the amendment to the FAA bill, then wrongly claimed “He did emit smoke from the vaporizer.”
To which Hunter insisted, “There’s no smoke in this. No carcinogens. It’s vapor. I would urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.”
It didn’t help, as the amendment passed anyway by a final tally of 33-26.
Most of us aren’t vaping on airplanes anyway, probably because we fear it would arouse unnecessary attention and even panic. So, in a way, this wasn’t a huge defeat. It didn’t really change any of the current regulations, leaving the TSA guidelines in place and they are very manageable. Maybe one day vaping will be allowed on airplanes and we can certainly aim for society to get to that point with electronic cigarettes, but we aren’t there yet.
It’s also okay that we aren’t there. The right to vape is a valid argument and one we embrace, but it doesn’t have to be everywhere all at once. The fact that we even have a member of congress up their fighting for our right to vape shows have far the movement has come. It only makes sense that among the millions that ecigarettes have reached, that one of them would actually be a congressman.
Still, having one of us up there and vaping a little cloud to show how this talk is much ado about nothing is really amazing. It signifies how far the revolution has come, even if it has a lot more to go. The idea that we have a right to vape is now on display in a big way. For now, perhaps we need to focus on that right being enforced on the ground instead of in the sky. There is still plenty to be done so that people have the right to vape in places where they should. All of this is a step in the right direction and, although he lost this battle, we salute Congressman Hunter for his gall. Together, the vapor revolution will reach its potential and continue to help millions of Americans every day.