The city’s board of supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes whose marketing has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration which, to date, is all of them.
Mayor London Breed said she would support the measure.
“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 resolution points to a sharp increase in teenage tobacco use — a 36 percent jump between 2017 and 2018, citing flavors that appeal to youth and sophisticated marketing strategies as causes.
Without a long history of massive settlements and aggressive legislation, e-cigarettes lack the strict regulatory framework that governs how traditional tobacco products are manufactured, marketed, and sold. And while the FDA set a deadline — August 8, 2022 — for e-cig makers to submit their products for review, San Francisco and a slew of public health advocates argue that this is simply too long to wait. The agency has even been sued for refusing to enforce the law.
“Until such time as the FDA fulfills its statutory duty to conduct premarket reviews of new tobacco products, a generation of young people will become addicted to tobacco, resulting in an entirely preventable increase in the burdens and tragedies associated with tobacco use,” the ordinance reads. “San Francisco is not content to wait until then before addressing, for its residents, what appears from the evidence to be a major public health crisis that is going unattended.”
Juul spokesman Ted Kwong argued that the ban 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.”
The company is supporting a ballot initiative that would proscribe measures like electronic age verification and city permitting instead of prohibition. If the measure passes, it could supersede the new ordinance, re-opening the city to e-cigarette sales.