San Francisco Becomes 1st Major US City to Ban E-Cigarettes

June 27, 2019 by Elin Johnson
A collection of popular vaping products include Suorin, Juul and Blu are displayed at St. Joseph Mercy Canton Health Center in Canton, Mich., on September 24, 2018. (Junfu Han/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes Tuesday, a move some say will help curb underage use, but that others say will only make it harder for adults to purchase an alternative to regular cigarettes.

City supervisors voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance, which bans both online and storefront sales of e-cigarettes within the municipality.

In a statement, e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, which is based in San Francisco, said the new ordinance would, “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.”

But San Francisco Mayor London Breed said, “There is so much we don’t know about the health impacts of these products, but we do know that e-cigarette companies are targeting our kids in their advertising and getting them hooked on addictive nicotine products.

“We need to take action to protect the health of San Francisco’s youth and prevent the next generation of San Franciscans from becoming addicted to these products,” the mayor said.

Previously, local governments, including San Francisco, had only targeted certain vapor flavors, like fruit punch and bubble gum, which they said were created and marketed to appeal to young vapors.

Federal regulators have described teen use of e-cigarettes as an “epidemic.” 

The new San Francisco ordinance is paired with another ordinance banning the sale of tobacco products on city property.

CNBC reported Tuesday that Juul Labs spent $665,239 in April and May in lobbying against the ordinances. 

The company, which says it too is opposed to youth vaping, is working on a ballot initiative that would regulate but not ban e-cigarette sales. It hopes to have voters voice their opinion on the matter in November.

The new San Francisco ban is set to go into effect in January 2020.

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