San Francisco to Become First City to Ban E-Cigs

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Steve Helber

San Francisco may be the first city to outlaw e-cigarettes, pending a Tuesday vote from the city’s board of supervisors.

The board is likely to pass a city ordinance stating that “no person shall sell or distribute an electronic cigarette to a person in San Francisco” unless the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves it first.

City officials say the ordinance is a way to criticize the FDA for failing to act.

“E-cigarettes are a product that, by law, are not allowed on the market without FDA review. For some reason, the FDA has so far refused to follow the law,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement last week after the ordinance passed an initial vote.

But the ordinance does more than simply ban the sale, distribution, or use of e-cigarettes.

The blanket ban would also restrict the manufacturing of vaping products, which would put one e-cigarette company at odds with the city given that it just bought office space.

Juul Labs said last Tuesday that it bought an office in San Francisco the same day San Francisco’s board approved the ban on e-cigarettes in a preliminary vote.

“We have always been a proud San Francisco-based company, and remain committed to serving the community as we focus on helping adult smokers switch from combustible cigarettes — the leading cause of preventable death — and combating underage use,” Juul Labs said in a statement last week.

After the board votes on the ordinance Tuesday, it would be up to San Francisco Mayor London Breed to sign it. The ordinance would take seven months to take effect, after which retailers could be fined $1,000 and face other penalties.

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