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San Francisco Becomes First U.S. City to Pass E-Cigarette Ban

(Robert Galbraith/Reuters)

San Francisco became the first U.S. city to effectively ban the sale of e-cigarettes on Tuesday.

The city’s board of supervisors passed an ordinance that bans the sale of e-cigarettes that have not yet received Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval, a category that currently includes all e-cigarettes on the U.S. market.

The new ordinance does not ban the public use of e-cigarettes by people 21 and over, but it does prohibit all brick-and-mortar sales and all online sales that would be delivered to addresses within city limits.

Democratic mayor London Breed voiced support for the legislation ahead of the Tuesday vote and is expected to sign it in the coming days.

“I support the legislation authored by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Supervisor Shamann Walton to suspend the sale of e-cigarettes in San Francisco until the Food and Drug Administration concludes a review of the impacts of vaping on public health,” 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 ordinance will become effective policy 30 days after receiving Breed’s signature and will be fully implemented six month later.

While the bill’s supporters argue it will help curb epidemic levels of teen nicotine use, vape companies such as Juul Labs, which is based in San Francisco, argue the prohibition will harm adult smokers looking for a safer alternative while doing little to curb teen use.

“The prohibition of vapor products for all adults in San Francisco will not effectively address underage use and will leave cigarettes on shelves as the only choice for adult smokers,” Juul said in a statement.

The FDA issued final guidance earlier this month demanding that e-cigarette makers submit their products to the health and safety accreditation process, which will be required for the sale of all e-cigarettes beginning in 2020. That announcement came after a lawsuit alleging the FDA had been negligent in allowing e-cigarettes to remain on the market for years without requiring health and safety inspections.

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