Safety concerns over vaping are “massively overblown” — according to the California congressman who once turned heads when he puffed away during a House committee hearing, a report said.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican from Alpine facing federal finance fraud charges, said Monday that he buys his “vape juice” from reputable dealers who aren’t connected to any of the 26 deaths nationwide that have been confirmed as of Friday by federal health officials.
“I am vaping,” Hunter, 42, declared to the San Diego Union-Tribune, adding that bans by some states are misguided, since users are primarily getting sick after using black market THC cartridges.
“It’s because of THC products that are homemade … or using the wrong oils,” Hunter told the newspaper. “It’s bad for you – that’s what’s happening.”
Hunter’s claim is mostly backed up by the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indicating that 76 percent of the 1,299 confirmed and probable lung injury cases associated with vaping involved products containing THC.
Just 13 percent of those patients, meanwhile, reporting using products that only contained nicotine. Twenty-six deaths have been reported in 21 states, including three in California, CDC data shows.
“The vape stores that I go through have clean rooms,” Hunter told the newspaper. “You know exactly what’s in the vape juice. It’s not made in China, it’s made here in the US by people who know what they’re doing – there’s no bad cases stemming from those types of stores.”
Hunter, whose theatrics in 2016 failed to stop an in-flight vaping ban from taking effect, has also been accused of being too close to the vaping industry, the newspaper notes.
In April 2018, Hunter turned over a $1,000 donation from a Tennessee vaping company to the US Treasury, indicating that his campaign later learned that the funds were prohibited.
One day after Hunter’s remarks, the San Diego Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to ban flavored vaping devices in the county for one year, the Union-Tribune reports.
Hunter’s remarks came after he fell short on Monday to get the two-thirds majority needed to receive an endorsement from GOP officials in San Diego County.
The lawmaker’s trial is scheduled to being in January and he has pleaded not guilty to misspending more than $200,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses and vacations.
Hunter’s wife and campaign chairwoman, Margaret, has pleaded guilty to a corruption charge, and has agreed to testify against the embattled lawmaker.
With Post Wires