On Tuesday, June 27, 2019, San Francisco became the first city in America to ban the sale of e-cigarettes until they receive the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s approval.
San Francisco’s ordinance was greenlit by the city’s Board of Supervisors and stipulates that “no person shall sell or distribute an electronic cigarette to a person in San Francisco” if it hasn’t gone through FDA review, which no e-cigarette product has been able to accomplish so far.
The ban also covers online and brick-and-mortar store sales. Further, the ban applies to flavored tobacco products.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed told CNN before the vote “I support the legislation authored by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Supervisor Shamann Walton to suspend the sale of e-cigarettes in San Francisco until the Food and Drug Administration concludes a review of the impacts of vaping on public health.”
Breed added, “There is so much we don’t know about the health impacts of these products, but we do know that e-cigarette companies are targeting our kids in their advertising and getting them hooked on addictive nicotine products. We need to take action to protect the health of San Francisco’s youth and prevent the next generation of San Franciscans from becoming addicted to these products.”
The San Francisco-based e-cigarette company Juul criticized this recent vote. Instead, it is working with lawmakers to create stricter regulations.
A Juul spokesperson relayed the company’s thoughts to The Hill about this situation:
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 of underage access and use. We have already taken the most aggressive actions in the industry to keep our products out of the hands of those underage and are taking steps to do more.
Over the last few years, e-cigarette use has been on the uptick. It has even surpassed traditional tobacco products in terms of usage.
However, busybody legislators aren’t liking this one bit.
LCN previously reported on Illinois Senator Dick Durbin’s hand-wringing about the issue of e-cigarettes at the federal level. Now, this movement is making its way to local and state politics.
It is rather ironic that San Francisco, a city in a state that has led the way in drug reform, is considering banning these kinds of products. On top of that, normal cigarettes are already legal, yet San Francisco doesn’t bother to ban those.
At the end of the day, all of these products should be legal. It is up to free individuals and civil society to decide what choices they make and also raise awareness on potentially harmful side effects of substances.
However, government-sponsored bans and strict regulations are not the answer to these problems.