San Francisco Is First City to Ban Sales of E-Cigarettes


San Francisco recently banned the sale of e-cigarettes within city limits, making it the first city to do so. The ban comes amid increasing concerns from public health officials, especially over the rise of underage consumption.

The City Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the ordinance in June, and the mayor signed it into law on July 1.

The ordinance cites data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows use of “tobacco products,” which includes e-cigarettes, by middle and high school students increased from 3.6 million to 4.9 million between 2017 and 2018.

“This increase — which was driven by a surge in e-cigarette use — erased past progress in reducing youth tobacco product use,” the ordinance says.

Supervisor Shamann Walton, who co-authored the ordinance, said e-cigarette companies like Juul are “putting profits before the health of young people and people in general.”

Juul, which reportedly controls 70 percent of the vaping market, has its headquarters in San Francisco. While the ordinance would prevent new vape product manufacturers from renting in city limits, the law will not force Juul to relocate.

Juul Spokesman Ted Kwong criticized the ordinance in a public statement.

“This full prohibition [of e-cigarettes] will drive former adult smokers who successfully switched to vapor products back to deadly cigarettes, deny the opportunity to switch for current adult smokers, and create a thriving black market instead of addressing the actual causes of underage access and use,” Kwong said.

In November 2018, Juul released an action plan addressing the use of vaping products by minors. Some measures included raising the minimum age of purchase to 21, requiring clerks to electronically scan I.D. cards, capping the amount consumers can purchase at one time, and removing sales from online marketplaces such as Amazon.

San Francisco’s ordinance will be fully implemented over the next six months. In the meantime, Juul is backing an effort to overrule the ordinance through a ballot initiative. A petition has reportedly already exceeded the number of signatures needed to put the issue before voters.

Image by Pexels.

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