San Francisco Votes to Ban Sales of Juul and other E-cigarettes
San Francisco made a bold move this week, voting to ban the sale and delivery of Juul and other e-cigarettes in its city. The mayor of San Francisco is expected to sign the proposed ban, which would then take effect in 2020. San Francisco is the first city in the U.S. to embrace serious regulation of e-cigarettes, which has been compared to the Big Tobacco regulation fights of the not-so-distant past.
A quote from San Francisco City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, mirrors our opinion that the FDA has shirked its responsibility to protect consumers from harm related to e-cigarettes:
This temporary moratorium wouldn’t be necessary if the federal government had done its job,” says Herrera. “E-cigarettes are a product that, by law, are not allowed on the market without FDA review. For some reason, the FDA has so far refused to follow the law. If the federal government is not going to act, San Francisco will. (Source: NPR)
After years of the declining use of traditional cigarettes, there is now an epidemic of e-cigarette use in underage consumers. Juul rakes in approximately 75% of that market due to its slick design and attractive flavors.
In California, the age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, is twenty-one (21), but rampant use is reported all the way down to eighth-grade students. All of these users are at risk for nicotine addiction and health problems. There are numerous studies on the harmful side effects of inhaling the chemicals in e-cigarette liquids and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn of the harm it can cause to developing brains. The CDC also declared e-cigarettes a gateway to traditional cigarette use.
The new ban will apply to the sale of e-cigarettes in physical stores and to online sales with San Francisco delivery addresses. San Francisco lawmakers have stated they’re concerned with the underage use of e-cigarettes and aim to prevent yet “another generation of people from becoming addicted to nicotine.” The new ordinances also include a ban on “the manufacture, distribution and sale of e-cigarettes on city-owned property in San Francisco.”
Juul, a San Francisco company affected by the new ordinances, responded with warnings that the ban will force adult smokers back to traditional cigarettes and will likely create a black market for e-cigarettes. Contrary to Juul’s statement, the groundbreaking law seems little different in practice than from “dry towns,” which prohibit the sale of alcohol. Those who want to buy the product would need only go outside city limits—a trip that will be harder for underage e-cigarette users than for adults. This somewhat deflates Juul’s hyperbolic warning about the rise of “black markets” because adult users would still easily be able to buy the product elsewhere. Perhaps Juul doesn’t understand that any market for underage users is already considered a “black market.” Juul is rumored to have started a petition to override the ban on the November ballot.