Board of Supervisors vote down official petition of San Francisco’s impending flavor ban.
This past June, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors ruled in favor of a ban on flavored tobacco products in the city. The law would go into effect on April 1st, 2018 if all goes according to plan. This comes after California state law was already changed last year, raising the smoking age from 18 to 21 as well as a $2 hike in cigarette taxes. Legislators argue that flavored tobacco, which includes most e-liquids, is a direct gateway for kids to get into vaping. The fear is that even though vaping is much less harmful, kids who pick up vaping may soon turn to cigarettes to get the same effect. These sorts of policies have really hurt the image of vaping. They are fooled by many of the same pitfalls as uninformed individuals, such as believing vaping is similar to smoking in terms of risk. But this shouldn’t be acceptable for officials in charge of setting the standards for public health policy. In response to this unfounded overstepping of bounds, a coalition called Let’s Be Real San Francisco took charge of the resistance effort.
The petition was signed by 33,941 citizens, which forced the Board of Supervisors to reconsider their ban. It’s no secret that big tobacco has a large stake in San Francisco’s ban, since menthol cigarettes are classified as a flavored tobacco product under the law. As such, R.J. Reynolds (Owners of Newport cigarettes) have been a major backer of the Let’s Be Real San Francisco coalition. So far they have given over $650,000 to the lobby group, all of which they claim only funded the petition effort. The authors of the petition argue that the people truly hurt by the ban will be the small business owners losing out on the estimated $50 million in flavored tobacco sales each year.
Last week the San Francisco Board of Supervisors decided to ignore the collective voice of over 30 thousand citizens and uphold the ban. The move doesn’t mean the end of the resistance though, as it will now be up to a citizen vote. A measure will be placed on the ballot next June to decide if the ban should be upheld or voted down. Lots of campaigning on both sides is sure to commence over coming months.
Why It Matters?
As we’ve seen in cases across the country, the public perception of vaping is weighing more heavily on the minds and pens of legislators than what peer reviewed science has to tell us. This instance is no different, as the major concerns of city supervisors have been thoroughly debunked. There is no solid evidence that connects vaping and increased risk of smoking. In fact, research out of the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) looked at over 60,000 teens and found that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of those who had never smoked, vaped regularly.
Not only this, but the evidence now stands behind vaping as an extremely successful smoking cessation tool. With that being the case, any legislation that wants to reduce the number of smokers, but chooses to group vaping with smoking, is actively working against its own cause. By limiting the transparent information and accessibility of a very successful smoking cessation tool, bans like this are sending more people back to traditional cigarettes than turning them away.
What We Can Do
If you live in San Francisco or even California at large, call your local representative and ask them to explain how it makes any sense to ban something that has been proven to help smoker quit. Research indicates that over half of smokers who regularly vape quit. The rest of us must continue to educate the smokers we can. Spread the truth and fight the misinformation.
What do you think of San Francisco’s proposed ban? Do you think this will help limit the amount of kids who pick up smoking? Would your favorite flavor of e-liquid be banned if you lived in San Francisco? Let us know what you think in the comments.