San Francisco May Become First US City To Ban E-Cigarettes

By Victoria Kim 06/21/19

San Francisco is one vote away from officially putting a "moratorium" on e-cig sales. 

man vaping in San Francisco

San Francisco is on track to becoming the first city in the United States to effectively ban e-cigarettes—amid rising concern that youth vaping has reached “epidemic” levels.

The city’s Board of Supervisors approved a measure that would prohibit sales of electronic cigarettes by a unanimous vote, and will need a second vote to make it official.

“We spent the ‘90s battling Big Tobacco, and now we see its new form in e-cigarettes,” said supervisor Shamann Walton, who voiced concern over the role of e-cigarettes in increasing “nicotine addiction for middle school children [and] high school students.”

City officials prefer to call it a “moratorium” on sales instead of a ban—put in place until there is approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to local reporter Ali Wolf.

Though the FDA has been very vocal about the concerning rise of vaping among youth, City Attorney Dennis Herrera said that until the agency acts, “it’s unfortunately falling to states and localities to step into the breach.” Herrera said that young people “have almost indiscriminate access to a product that shouldn’t even be on the market.”

Youth vaping has reached “epidemic” levels, said former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

“We didn’t predict what I now believe is an epidemic of e-cigarette use among teenagers," said Gottlieb in a September 2018 statement. "I use the word epidemic with great care. E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous—and dangerous—trend among teens. The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end."

He continued, "The FDA won’t tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products.”

Another proposal endorsed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors would ban the manufacturing of e-cigarettes on city property.

One Nebraska school district is taking on this “epidemic” by implementing random nicotine testing on some students this fall.

“The skyrocketing growth of young people’s e-cigarette use over the past year threatens to erase progress made in reducing youth tobacco use,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield. “It’s putting a new generation at risk for nicotine addiction.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr