A US city could have one of the strictest anti vaping regulations ever seen in the western world.
A total ban on flavored liquids is set to be voted for by San Francisco residents on Tuesday, June 5th, after the city’s Board of Supervisors last year approved a total ban on flavoured tobacco products, including e-liquids.
The law was agreed despite the city government facing fierce opposition from vaping advocates and the industry as a whole.
But before it was actioned, tobacco company RJ Reynolds organised a petition to force a ballot – now known as Proposition E – which will see the law go to the public vote in a matter of days.
The ban includes everything from candy-flavored e-cigarettes to conventional menthol smokes.
Opponents to the ban, who are mostly consumers and small business owners, are worried the law could kill off local businesses in the city.
Vape users as well as harm reduction advocates also argue that banning flavors would make it harder for smokers to quit.
Those supporting the new law, however, including Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and a group of anti-vaping academics, claim banning flavors will protect children from being lured into vaping.
There are big money backers on each side too with RJ Reynolds reportedly ploughing $11 million to the “No on E” campaign with adverts on the radio, TV, online and via direct mail.
On the other side, former New York City mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg is said to have contributed $1.3million to the campaign for a “yes” vote.
While some believe it’s only the big tobacco giants who stand to lose out with a flavor ban, thousands of residents and small businesses in San Francisco are concerned about how it would impact them.
San Francisco resident Donna Anderson said of the potential affect on the city’s businesses: “You’re just driving sales underground. It will not stop people from accessing what they want or using what they want.”
At the Mission Smoke Shop, Sam Azar has plastered the walls of his store with “No-on-E” signs and says of a ban: “It’s going to hurt me as a small business here in the city by like 30 per cent or more.”
While San Francisco would be the first city in America to ban flavors, others could also be following suit.
Chicago has this week seen a proposal filed to ban the sale of e-liquid flavors in the city, which will now be reviewed by its finance committee.