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San Francisco becomes first U.S. city to ban flavored e-liquids for vaping

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The San Francisco vaping community was dealt a crushing blow this week when city officials unanimously voted to ban the sales of all flavored e-liquids and “tobacco products.” The ban takes effect in April of 2018 and will also prohibit the sales of e menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Strangely, the future sales of tobacco-flavored e-liquids are exempt.

The legislation was aggressively opposed by many in the Bay Area vaping community, including numerous vape shop owners and convenience store retailers. Meanwhile, several national vaping advocacy groups, such as the American Vaping Association (AVA) and the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA) also joined in the fight. But their efforts were no match for the uber-powerful California tobacco control lobby which has its base near San Francisco.

CASAA CEO Alex Clark calls the new ban on flavored tobacco products “shameful” while also claiming that the newly passed legislation is “purely an emotional decision” of misguided lawmakers. He also acknowledges that the battle is not yet over. In an editorial on the CASAA website, Clark issues the following statement.

“San Francisco has done a shameful thing, but there is still time to fix it. In the months leading up to implementing the flavor ban, there is still an opportunity to pass an exemption for low-risk tobacco and nicotine products. Considering the rate at which studies about tobacco harm reduction are emerging, it is possible we will have more evidence to support an exemption. Unfortunately, while we wait for the Board of Supervisors to come to their senses, hundreds of San Francisco residents will continue to smoke past a point where switching to a low-risk alternative could have saved their lives.”

San Francisco vaping ban designed for ‘saving youth’

According to the wording of the legislation, the ban on all future sales of flavored tobacco products is based on the notion of “saving youth from a lifetime of nicotine addiction.” However, this single, eight-word phrase is filled with intentional misinformation and which favors Big Tobacco by demonizing vaping.

Firstly, e-liquids are 100% tobacco-free, and therefore, should not be included under the definition of “tobacco products.” San Francisco city supervisors seem to be taking a page from the controversial FDA deeming regulations which also make the same assertion. But this is faulty logic. And the FDA has delayed the implementation of its new deeming regulations at least twice since their passage because of it.

Secondly, multiple scientists of world-class reputations do not necessarily agree that “nicotine addiction” is even a major health concern. In a November 2016 broadcast of The Adam Carolla Show, Dr. Drew Pinsky of MTV fame made the following claims.

“Vaping is not tobacco. There’s nothing wrong with the nicotine, which is what you’re addicted to. It’s the tobacco that causes all the F-ing damage. So, you’ve got to get off the tobacco. You can sure stay on the nicotine. Find a nicotine replacement. Use a vape. Whatever, and then try to taper down from there….but if you can’t, stay with…anything but tobacco.”

Banning the sale of flavored e-liquids to help end smoking addiction is tantamount to banning the sales of condoms to prevent the spreading of HIV. Flavored e-cigs help current smokers transition off of those toxic tobacco cigarettes laced with thousands of needlessly noxious chemicals specifically included by Big Tobacco to addict the user. Banning them will only drive millions of vapers back into the loving arms of Big Tobacco.

And according to the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey recently released last week by the CDC, smoking rates – particularly among American youth – is on the decline in the past year. In fact, the report clearly shows a nearly 50% decrease over the past five years, largely due to the increase in popularity of vaping. And as thousands of medical research studies have already determined, vaping is 95% less harmful than smoked tobacco. 

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