San Francisco recently made what seems like an extreme and controversial move: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted an e-cigarette ban into effect. The move follows a San Francisco flavor ban, which eliminated the sale of e-cigarette vapor flavors that could be enticing to teens and young people.
The goal of the complete ban, according to City Attorney Dennis Herrera, is to help prevent teen vaping and another generation of young people in San Francisco from becoming addicted to nicotine. Herrera went on to say that the city enacted the e-cigarette ban because of a lack of action on the part of the federal government. Herrera pointed out that e-cigarettes aren’t supposed to be on the market without FDA review, but according to him, that’s a rule that isn’t being followed federally.
The e-cigarette ban is set for enforcement beginning in early 2020.
Under federal law, to purchase any tobacco products, you must be 18 years old. Sixteen states, including California, have laws that require you to be at least 21 to buy tobacco products. In spite of these laws, the use of e-cigarettes appears to have risen among teens nationwide.
Increase in Teen Vaping
According to the Truth Initiative, which is an organization that seeks to combat teen tobacco use, nicotine levels in e-cigarettes are variable. Juul e-cigarettes claim to have as much nicotine as traditional cigarettes, and yet among Juul users, only 37% reported knowing these products contain nicotine.
Teen vaping statistics show that kids Juuling and youth vaping are on the rise, despite declines in teen cigarette use. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports teens are more likely to use e-cigarettes than cigarettes, with a reported 16.2% of 12th graders saying they used e-cigarettes in the past month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the use of nicotine can negatively impact a young person’s developing brain, and young people who vape may be more likely to start smoking cigarettes.
The e-cigarette ban is also joined by another ordinance that prevents the manufacturing, distribution and sale of e-cigarettes on San Francisco city-owned property. This ban extends to Juul Labs, located on Pier 70 in San Francisco. Juul tends to be popular among young people because it’s such a small, portable device.
E-Cigarette Ban Controversies
The e-cigarette ban in San Francisco isn’t without controversy. Many people are pointing out Juul benefits and the benefits of e-cigarettes in general. These devices have helped many people stop using regular cigarettes and reduce some of the risks that come with traditional cigarette use. The Juul company responded to San Francisco’s new ordinances as well, saying that the ban won’t address underage smoking and will make cigarettes the only choice in the city for people who smoke.
Some people who supported the fruit flavor ban for vaping products last year say that the city has gone too far.
There are also financial considerations. Many businesses in the city make a significant amount of money from their vaping products, and now they won’t have that revenue. Critics of the ban also say that if teens and young people want e-cigarettes, they will find a way to get them regardless of the city ordinance.
Despite criticism of the ban, proponents hope that it will reduce the risks of teens and vaping and perhaps lower teen smoking rates. Juul is working on gathering signatures right now to overturn the ban, and they’re hoping to do so on the November ballot before the ban takes effect.
Klivans, Laura. “San Francisco Bans Sales of e-Cigarettes.” NPR, June 25, 2019. Accessed July 15, 2019.
Nedelman, Michael. “San Francisco Passes Ban on E-Cigarette Sales, a US First.” CNN, June 25, 2019. Accessed July 15, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Teens and E-Cigarettes.” February 2016. Accessed July 15, 2019.
Truth Initiative. “E-Cigarettes: Facts, stats and regulations.” July 19, 2018. Accessed July 15, 2019.