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e-Cigarette Ban Experiment - San Francisco

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

San Francisco to be the first city to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to people both in store and online as proposed in Health Code ordinance No. 190312.

According to the findings, tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and kills more than 480,000 people in the US annually.

Once signed by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, the ban will go into effect 7 months later (2020) and last until the US Food & Drug Administration reviews the health risks of vaping. This likely will not happen until 2022. The legislation was passed on Tuesday, June 25th and the Mayor has 10 days to sign it.

The Californian city is home to Juul Labs, the most popular e-cigarette producer in the US. Juul said the move would drive smokers back to cigarettes and "create a thriving black market".

The potential penalty for a retailer selling in store or shipping to someone in San Francisco will pose the optional maximum penalty of $1,000. There are no repercussions for San Francisco residents who purchase e-cigarettes online -- it's all on retailers. Other California cities are considering similar updates to their laws, including the Bay Area's Richmond and Livermore.

According to Dr. Robert Jackler, founder of the group Stanford Research Into The Impact of Tobacco Advertising, San Francisco's ban is "misguided," he said, because banning vapes gives young people no other choice than to turn to tobacco, "the thing that we have all feared the most." While it's already illegal for those under 21 to buy e-cigarettes in California, a recent study found that half of tobacco and vape shops in the state don't ID teenagers.

Many public health experts believe that if the board of supervisors were interested in public health, they would prohibit the sale of cigarettes in San Francisco as it's a far higher priority than banning vaping from a public health point of view. The irony in the legislation is that you can now buy your marijuana and your cigarettes, but you won't be able to get vaping products!

The long-term effects of vaping devices are unknown, particularly on youth who smoke them. They contain the addictive substance nicotine but far fewer of the toxins that combustible cigarettes have.

In most US states, the legal age to buy tobacco products and e-cigarettes is 18, but in California, it's 21. It's already illegal for teenagers to buy e-cigarettes. While the ban is targeted at reducing the impact to the number of teenage users, adults of legal age will also be unable to buy e-cigarettes leaving nicotine dependent individual's only recourse in the city to switch back to regular cigarettes, or the win-win, to quit smoking all together.

What are your thoughts and opinions on the San Francisco e-cigarette ban?

Will there be an increase in regular cigarette sales or will this just be a road block whereas young people find the detour to still get their hands on e-cigarettes.

Additional resources - E-cigarettes (how they work, some myths, and risks)

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