San Francisco has voted overwhelmingly for an outright ban on all vape juice flavors, a move which could be mimicked across the country.
The US city will now see menthol cigarettes and all flavored tobacco-related products outlawed from sale in one of the strictest anti-vaping regulations ever seen in the western world
Residents had turned out to vote yesterday (Tuesday) after the city’s Board of Supervisors last year approved a total ban on flavoured tobacco products, including e-liquids.
It had been taken to the public ballot after tobacco company RJ Reynolds organised a petition – known as Proposition E – so residents could have their say before it was actioned.
In yesterday’s vote, 68 per cent voted in favor and 31 per cent opposed the ban, which includes everything from candy-flavored e-cigarettes to conventional menthol smokes.
Other cities and states could now follow suit with San Francisco’s neighbour San Mateo County also voting for a ban yesterday and Chicago filing a similar proposal, now due to be scrutinised by its finance committee.
Opponents to San Francisco’s new law were mostly consumers and small business owners who were worried the law could kill off local trade in the city.
They argued not only would it mean shop closures, vape users would have to travel outside the city to buy their vape juice, taking more business away from the city.
Supporters of the ban, including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said they believed the ban on all flavored e-liquids, including candy and bubblegum flavors which they believe lures children into vaping, would see fewer under-age vapers take up the habit.
However, opposers of the ban said residents are now much more likely to buy vape products online instead, where it’s actually easier for teens to buy them.
Vape users as well as harm reduction advocates also argued that banning flavors would make it harder for adult smokers to quit.
As news of the story broke this morning, San Francisco residents took to social media to express their reactions.
One resident, D Wilson, wrote on Twitter: “Vaping helps many people finally quit smoking and you can gradually taper down the nicotine levels in the e-juice till its 0, therefore no more addiction….teens can’t buy it so why take it away from adults trying to quit?”
The vote had seen many big money backers on each side trying to sway the vote with tobacco giant 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 believed it was only the big tobacco giants who stood to lose out with a flavor ban, Greg Conley, president of the American Vaping Association didn’t see it that way.
“It is a travesty that anti-vaping extremists would mislead San Francisco voters into making it harder for adult smokers to quit,” he said, adding that flavored products are helpful to smokers who want to give up.
Resident Sam Pryfogle added of the ban in a light-hearted quip: “I guess adults don’t get to choose what we want anymore. Kids aren’t the only ones who enjoy a little flavor in their vape!”