As they sometimes do, a Congressional markup got heated Thursday—or vape-y, or smoky, depending on your point of view. To oppose an amendment that would ban vaping on planes, California Congressman Duncan Hunter pulled out his vape pen.
"First, I'd like to say this," Hunter said, then took a long, deep toke of his vape. "This is a vaporizer. There's no combustion, no carcinogens."
Like any good vaper, Hunter then had a protracted argument with DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton over the proper vocabulary that should be used to describe vaping.
Norton's amendment to the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act would treat e-cigarettes "like smoking," which would of course make it illegal to vape on airplanes. When Holmes Norton called Hunter's vape mod an "electronic cigarette," he took offense.
"This is a personal vaporizer. We don't call them electronic cigarettes anymore because we don't call them cigarettes," he said. "They have propylene glycol, flavoring, and water in them. It is not an e-cigarette. It doesn't even look like a cigarette."
"He did emit smoke from the vaporizer," Holmes Norton said.
"There's no smoke in this. No carcinogens," he countered. "It's vapor. I would urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment."
The bill this amendment is being attached to is an important one—it's a comprehensive Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that would, among other things, spin off responsibility of air traffic control from the FAA and establish an independent, nonprofit corporation that handles it. At some point, a version of the bill must be passed in order for the FAA to continue doing its job.
At the moment, it is not strictly illegal to vape on planes, but most major airlines ban it. It is currently illegal to put vape mods in checked baggage, but you can still carry them on planes.
The conversation moved on after Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) noted that because the effects of secondhand vaping are both understudied and misunderstood by the general public, it will lead to fighting on planes.
"I don't want to sit next to someone making these clouds of vapor," DeFazio said. "I can imagine the passenger rage. We don't want people talking on cell phones because it starts fights. We don't want people vaping because flight attendants have enough to deal with. Duncan is free to wear a patch during the flight."