San Francisco Passes E-Cigarette Ban

On Tuesday, San Francisco city officials voted to ban e-cigarette sales in brick-and-mortar stores, becoming the first city in the United States to institute such a law. 

The ordinance, which passed unanimously, restricts the sale of e-cigarettes in San Francisco until they are officially approved by the FDA. It will also ban online retailers from delivering e-cigarette products to addresses in San Francisco. 

Although e-cigarettes will be banned, traditional cigarettes, as well as marijuana and cannabis vapes, will remain legal for purchase in the city.

While initially marketed as a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes, emerging research suggests that e-cigarettes may still pose a risk to users’ health. Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive; additionally, some studies have suggested that e-cigarette use may be linked to increased risk of heart disease  and lung conditions, though more research is needed.

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Additionally, e-cigarette use is on the rise among teenagers in particular, with the Centers for Disease Control reporting that an estimated 4.9 million high school and middle school students used some form of tobacco product between 2017 and 2018, a significant increase from the previous year. The increase in users has been attributed in large part to the rise of e-cigarettes, which are the most commonly used product among high schoolers, according to the CDC report. 

The e-cigarette ban in San Francisco is a significant blow for Juul, arguably the most popular e-cigarette brand, which is headquartered in San Francisco. Critics of Juul have accused the company of marketing directly to young people by offering products in various flavors, including mango, creme, and cucumber. The FDA has also cracked down on retailers selling to underage Juul consumers, and former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb has said that “there’s no question the Juul product drove a lot of the youth use.” Although Juul has vowed to make an effort to curb sales to underage consumers, the startup is understandably opposed to the San Francisco ban, according to Ted Kwong, a spokesperson for Juul.

“The prohibition of vapor products for all adults in San Francisco will not effectively address underage use and will leave cigarettes on shelves as the only choice for adult smokers,” Kwong said in an email to Bloomberg. 

Now that the ban has been passed into law by city officials, it awaits signature from Mayor London Breed, who has stated her support for the ban. She has 10 days to sign the ban into law.

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