San Francisco Vaping Ban: Update

On July 1, San Francisco banned the sale of e-cigarette inside the city. The ordinance, signed by Mayor London Breed, is the first in the US.

The policy is being rolled out over seven months, although it will be effective on July 31, and “operative” six months later. The ordinance states:

no person shall sell or distribute an electronic cigarette to a person in San Francisco without that product undergoing premarket review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

So far, no products have been reviewed.

The ban includes online sales, brick-and-mortar stores, e-cigarettes, and flavored tobacco products, but does not ban the use of all vapes among adults age 21 and older.

This decision comes as Juul, a leading e-cigarette company whose corporate headquarters is located in San Francisco, continues to face criticism for its popularity among young people. Juul CEO Kevin Burns recently issued an apology to parents whose children use the product, acknowledging the issue.

However, the ban intensifies the focus on what might be an ongoing battle over vaping regulation. Juul, despite its apology, has also made statements arguing in favor of regulation rather than prohibition.

Juul also takes the position that banning e-cigarette sales will drive former cigarette smokers back to smoking. New research supports this position; a recent study found that daily e-cigarette use is associated with a significantly higher drop in daily cigarette smoking as well as a rise in smoking cessation attempts among cigarette smokers.

From the study:

Daily electronic cigarette use appears to be helpful in initiating smoking cessation among persons who intend to quit tobacco; however, in the general population, its efficacy with regard to smoking abstinence in the long term is uncertain.

Meanwhile, small businesses in the city are suffering. A working group has been proposed to help small businesses cope with the ban.

The San Francisco Examiner reports that there are 731 permits for tobacco sales in San Francisco, and the Department of Public Health reports that 80 percent of businesses are complying with the ban. Reports from various sources including the Office of Small Business estimate that businesses may suffer annual losses of $50 million from banning flavored tobacco, and another $70 million from the ban on all e-cigarettes.


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