SAN FRANCISCO─During a preliminary vote, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to ban the sale of e-cigarettes. If the same results follow, the final approval vote which will take place next week, will make San Francisco the first city in the United States to implement such a ban.

If approved, the legislature will go in effect in January2020. It will stop the sale of e-cigarettes in physical stores and will block the shipment of online orders to San Francisco addresses. The restrictions will not be removed until the Food and Drug Administration surveys the safety of the products.

One of the main driving forces of this measure was the popularity of vaping amongst teens. Supervisors acknowledged that this ban will not entirely prevent underage use of nicotine, but are hoping to discourage it. Supporters are calling for the FDA to review the health effects of e-cigarettes.

“Companies like Juul have had three years to submit their product and marketing to the FDA. The question is, ‘why haven’t they?’” Supervisor Shamann Walton voiced.

E-cigarettes work by heating nicotine extracted by tobacco, flavorings, and other chemicals to produce water vapor to inhale. Traditional cigarettes contain over 7,000 chemicals, chemicals which are contained in their electronic counterpart are not entirely verified. Vape reportedly exposes the users to fewer toxic chemicals.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 37.3 percent of 12th graders reported vaping in the last 12 months in 2018. About 10 percent of 8th graders reported vaping as well. There has been a rise in the use of e-cigarettes in youth. Between 2017 and 2018, there was a 9.5 percent increase in electronic nicotine users amongst 12th graders.  

The new ban will have a huge impact on rising electronic cigarette companies such as Juul. In regards to the new legislature, a Juul spokesperson stated:

“We share the Board of Supervisors’ goal to keep tobacco and vapor products out of the hands of anyone under 21, which is why we have already taken the most aggressive actions in the industry.”

They have stopped the sale of flavored cartridges and improved online age-verification systems. Juul claims to have taken action against inappropriate social media content. More details on their action plan can be found via their website.

“But 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, even though they kill 40,000 Californians every year,” said a JUUL spokesperson. “We will continue to work with local policymakers, small businesses, community leaders and adult smokers who have switched to vapor products to enact stronger regulation and enforcement rather than complete prohibition.”  

JUUL recently purchased a 28-story office building located in 123 Mission Street right in San Francisco business district. It has an estimated value of $400 million. JUUL Labs stated, “We have always been a proud San Francisco-based company, and remain committed to serving the community as we focus on helping adult smokers switch from combustible cigarettes — the leading cause of preventable death — and combating underage use.”