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California Lawmaker Proving to be E-Cigarette Champion

 A California lawmaker has positioned himself as an ardent supporter of e-cigarettes.

U.S. Congressman Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California, says e-cigarettes and vaporizers have helped him quit using tobacco and should be spared from prohibitive legislation. During a Congressional hearing earlier this month regarding a proposal to ban e-cigarette use on airplanes, Hunter pulled out a vaporizer and puffed away to make his point.

“This is called a vaporizer,” Hunter said, as he exhaled a cloud of smokeless vapor. “There’s no combustion. There’s no carcinogens…There is no burning. There is nothing noxious about this whatsoever. This has helped thousands of people quit smoking. It’s helped me quit smoking."

Hunter’s display at the hearing – where lawmakers ultimately voted to ban the use of e-cigs and vaporizers on planes –  is not the first time he has demonstrated his support of vaping.

Last year, he penned a letter to the editor regarding vaporizers to The Hill, a U.S. political website. He also has routinely fought government regulation of the e-cigarette industry and opposes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) getting involved when it comes to reviewing and approving electronic cigarettes.

In his letter to the editor, Hunter shared his personal story. “Yes, I vape. On occasion, I might even smoke a real cigarette,” he wrote in the December letter. “Through my military career, including three combat tours, I even experienced chewing tobacco.”

“Now that I vape, does it mean I am one step closer to dying than say, someone who might drink too much, eat too much red meat or live an all-around unhealthy lifestyle?” he continued. “No way.”

“The reason I vape is simple: It’s so I don’t smoke cigarettes,” Hunter added. “I vape knowing that I’m not inhaling tobacco. Most importantly, I vape because I believe it could save my life.”

Hunter said he is not alone in using e-cigs to help quit smoking and slammed the FDA for proposing to retroactively regulate e-cigarettes. The latter, he says, will either push vapers to use outdated e-cigarette designs or once again use tobacco cigarettes while the FDA halts sales of modern e-cigs so they can be studied and reviewed.

“There are millions of Americans like me, who are choosing e-cigarettes over their traditional counterpart,” he said. “Now the Food and Drug Administration wants to force me and millions of others to revert to cigarettes through the issuance of new regulations.”

The FDA is proposing that it have the ability to regulate any e-cigarette that was available on or after February 15, 2007. Any e-cigs from that date forward would be pulled from the market while the FDA reviewed them, a process that could take years and cost manufacturers hundreds of thousands of dollars per device.

“The problem is that most e-cigarettes didn’t exist before February 15, 2007,” Hunter wrote. “So if the FDA gets its way, not only will modern day e-cigarettes, with all their advancements and improvements, no longer be available for purchase, but thousands of small businesses specializing in the sale of vaping pens and accessories will be forced to close their doors.”

“The FDA should wise up,” he wrote. “And if their true goal is to reduce cigarette use, then imposing a prohibition of sorts on e-cigarettes is senseless.”

Hunter also wrote a letter to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi in December after she bragged about squashing a plan that would have kept the FDA from regulating e-cigs. Pelosi, a Democrat from California, is the House minority leader.

 “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,” Hunter wrote to Pelosi. “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.”