Juul CEO Kevin Burns told the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board Thursday that the vaping company plans to stay in the city — along with its 1,200 employees — even as the city considers banning the sale of e-cigarettes.
The Chronicle reported that Burns met with the editorial board as part of a drive to stop the ban — and to convince local authorities and opinion-makers that the company is serious about preventing underage abuse of its products.
The editorial board has already come out against the vaping ban, calling it “political grandstanding” and noting that the city is not planning to ban traditional cigarettes, despite their health risks.
Burns acknowledged that the company was “partly responsible” for the growing problem of youth vaping, simply by virtue of its phenomenal success, since it now accounts for 80% of the market. However, he said, it had not been the company’s intention to encourage youth vaping.
Debate over e-cigarettes has grown nationwide. Some want vaping restricted further to prevent young people from becoming addicted to nicotine. But others argue that vaping helps smokers quit using cigarettes, which contain a variety of other harmful chemicals.
Slate’s Shannon Paulus argued earlier this year that the “moral panic over teen e-cigarette use tends to obscure e-cigarettes’ potential as an essential harm reduction tool and a safer alternative to cigarettes, a known cancer causing agent.” The problem with San Francisco’s proposed ban, she said, was that it would keep e-cigarettes away from the adults that they could help, not just the youth that they might harm.
Others argue that San Francisco is simply repeating a pattern of “nanny state” behavior by cracking down on legitimate commerce — especially small business — while ignoring persistent problems in local governance, such as homelessness, drug use, and the bizarre crisis of human excrement on the streets.
Juul’s commitment to San Francisco reflects a complicated dance that many Bay Area business are performing — namely, lobbying and appeasing left-wing lawmakers who make a habit of targeting successful companies.
The New York Times noted Thursday that Democratic presidential candidates in particular are wooing Silicon Valley executives for donations, and then calling for them to face tougher regulation.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.