San Francisco City officials voted Tuesday regarding the banning of selling nicotine vaporizers or popularly known as e-cigarettes in the city. The mayor, who’s adamant about doing so, has yet to sign the move into legislation. However, amidst the favorable implication of the banning moving forward, e-cigarette producer, Juul, is taking a stand against it.
San Francisco is set to become the first city in the United States to ban the sale of e-cigarettes. The subsequent legislation will also put an end to online retailers from shipping the vaporizers with San Francisco addresses.
London Breed, the city’s mayor, has ten days to review the newly-approved ordinance before signing it into law and enforce it into motion. Meanwhile, cigarettes and other tobacco products will remain legal in the city, along with recreational marijuana.
Once signed, the law would take effect seven months from that date, although there have been reports firms could challenge the said law from implementation.
Although e-cigarettes have been marketed as an alternative for long-time cigarette consumers—an effective way to transition from deadly cigarettes to a slightly less deadly product—it has also attracted other markets such as first-time or novice smokers. Forcing governments to put a ban on e-cigarettes themselves.
Particularly, e-cigarettes have gained traction from younger consumers resulting in higher cigarette consumption. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of US teenagers who admitted using nicotine products rose about 36% last year, something it attributed to a growth in e-cigarette use.
In a study by the University of Michigan, where they interviewed 45,000 students across the country, the results told that there was a sharp increase at 1.3 million additional students who vaped between grades 9 through 12.
“The policies and procedures in place to prevent youth vaping clearly haven’t worked,” said Richard Miech, the survey’s lead author.
“Vaping is reversing hard-fought declines in the number of adolescents who use nicotine… These results suggest that vaping is leading youth into nicotine use and nicotine addiction, not away from it.”
San Francisco’s City Attorney, Dennis Herrera praised the latest move by the city. He also co-sponsored the ordinance into legislation along with a city supervisor.
“We’ve seen a tremendous increase in the use of e-cigarettes, which has led to increased rates of nicotine addiction among young people,” Herrera said. “I don’t think San Francisco is any different from any other city.”
He called out the Federal Drug Association against its apprehension on regulating the sale of e-cigarettes in the country saying that the FDA did an “abdication of responsibility” and calling the new legislation necessary.
“This is groundbreaking legislation that shows local governments are prepared to step up,” he said. “What you will see in the aftermath of this legislation is other jurisdictions looking at what they might be prepared to do to protect their young people.”
However, Herrera did note that the city will lift its ban on e-cigarette sales in the city once the FDA starts implementing guidelines on companies for its production and health risks.
The FDA started overseeing e-cigarette production back in 2016 during the Obama administration but decided to push back the initial decision during the Trump administration to 2022.
On the other hand, as cigarette sales in the country decline, companies like Altria Group who owns Marlboro are looking at other alternatives like e-cigarettes. Particularly, they have purchased 35% worth of stock in San Francisco-based e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. The startup is now valued at $38 billion.
The company’s e-cigarette is popularly known for its discreet appearance as opposed to other e-cigarettes available in the market. Aesthetically, Juul products are just longer than a flash drive that has a variety of flavors available. It consists of about 70% of the US vaping market.
However, Juul is facing criticism from its home town even after the company supported the campaign of preventing younger audiences from accessing its products. “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,” Juul said.
In light of their current situation, Juul spokesman Ted Kwong said that “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.”
He added that traditional tobacco products will “remain untouched by this legislation, even though they kill 40,000 Californians every year.”
As a workaround, Juul is proposing that their products, as well as other e-cigarettes, should remain available for consumers who rely on them to avoid using conventional and deadly cigarettes. Furthermore, there would be stricter implementations that e-cigarettes will only be available on consumers aged 21 and above.
Three weeks ago, Beverly Hills, California, passed the first prohibition on most tobacco sales, including e-cigarettes ban, starting in 2021.