Could San Francisco Become the First City to Ban Sales of Vaping Products?

The City by the Bay has taken some firm steps towards banning the sales of vaping products in the city.
Fabienne Lang

The Board of Supervisors of San Francisco in the US, have unanimously signed and approved an ordinance on 26 June which would ban the sales and distribution of e-cigarettes in the city. 

Nothing is fully confirmed yet, as it first has to be signed into law. However, if it does pass, the new legislation would mean that no one in the Bay area with San Francisco addresses, could sell vaping products, or order them online. 

This would make it the first city worldwide to ban e-cigarettes. 


Who is fighting back?

Juul, a San Francisco-based e-cigarette company is taking a stand against this legislation.

The company has been blamed for underage addiction to nicotine because of its flavored pod-based products.

Last year, it had taken some steps to comply by banning sales to those under 21 years of age. Regardless, they are pushing forward with a petition. 

File:Juul with pods (29395579877).jpg
A Juul electronic cigarette, with a pod next to it. Source: Commons

The company has supposedly already collected signatures to add a ballot measure if the legislation passes, which would enable San Francisco stores to keep selling e-cigarettes to those over 21 years of age. 

If it does indeed pass, the law would only come into place in November. 

Why is the city looking to ban e-cigarettes?

The main reason for the ban is the surge in underage "smokers," or e-cigarette users. 

"According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of middle and high school students who reported being current users of tobacco products increased 36% - from 3.6 million to 4.9 million students - between 2017 and 2018," the proposal said.

It continued: "This dramatic increase, which has erased past progress in reducing youth tobacco use, is directly attributable to a nationwide surge in e-cigarette use by adolescents."

Even though the vaping industry creators and manufacturers have marketed themselves as creating a device that helps adult smokers quit, or reduce their nicotine and tobacco intake, this surge in youth use is quite a shock. 

Could San Francisco Become the First City to Ban Sales of Vaping Products?
Vaping. Source: Sarahjohnson1/ Pixabay

Most vaping products are easily available and easy to hide. A perfect recipe for teenagers. 

The vaping industry has also increased due to the decrease in cigarette sales in the US with more and more people turning to e-cigarettes in the past few years. 

A potential controversy 

Even with companies such as Juul committed to preventing under 21 year olds purchasing e-cigarettes, the company voices a main concern: "this full prohibition 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 for underage access and use."

A few serious concerns still remain to take into consideration before any laws can be passed. 

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