After a second, final vote on Tuesday, the City by the Bay has become the first major U.S. metropolis to ban the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes.
Supervisor Shamann Walton co-wrote the legislation, and called its passage a “win for the city’s youth.” And while many business owners are far from pleased, Walton stands by the decision. “This forces us to work together and to come up with some of the solutions that will help our businesses be successful here,” Walton said. “I’m excited and happy to do that, but I will never put profits ahead of our young people.”
Jouni Abuzaghbire, owner of Sam’s Smoke Shop, is not convinced. E-cigarettes reportedly make up about 50% of his revenue, and he is more than a little skeptical of Walton’s legislation. “Every year we get hit with a new law and this is their plan,” Jouni said. “I’ve been in business in San Francisco over 10 years and I don’t see any help from them except headache.”
Juul, a prominent force in the e-cigarette industry, is headquartered in San Francisco. The company is working on a ballot initiative to regulate their product without banning it outright. On their website, they maintain:
Juul Labs is committed to improving the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers by eliminating cigarettes. We don’t want anyone who doesn’t smoke, or already use nicotine, to use Juul products. We certainly don’t want youth using the product. It is bad for public health, and it is bad for our mission.
E-cigarettes join flavored tobacco in their city-wide ban, while sugar-sweetened drinks have been penalized with additional tax since 2016.