The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the self-proclaimed “leaders” of the city, has just issued a ban on all vaping products that aren’t FDA approved. While lacking a single vote, it’s not a law yet. However, given the unanimous approval, the results are highly unlikely to change. If effected, the law will prohibit sales of all vaping products within the city limits, whether in city stores or online.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera rationalized the ban by citing that it’ll only apply for products that are not approved by the FDA. He even termed the requirement as “common sense”. Taken out of the context, and as an individual fact, the reasoning does seem to hold ground. That is until you consider the city’s stance concerning other tobacco products. While combustible cigarettes are responsible for claiming over 400,000 American lives every year, the leaders of San Francisco aren’t apparently agitated enough to issue a similar ban against the product.
The reality of the frustrating situation is voiced well by the public health professor Michael Siegel of Boston University. He doubted the supposed concern for the public’s well-being of the Supervisors. After all, how rational is it when the shelves are empty of vaping products as cancerous tobacco goes overflowing?
The Premarket Tobacco Application (PMTA) is the prerequisite for any tobacco-related product that seems FDA approval. This application hasn’t been submitted by any vape manufacturer for two reasons. First, the application for a single product costs about a million dollar. And second, there’s no guarantee that it’ll be approved, which will result in a total loss. Besides, the exact PMTA guidance was published just a week ago.
As it happens, JUUL, the phenomenally popular vape manufacturer, calls San Francisco its home. Many are seeing the ban as the direct answer to the supposed rise in teen vaping, which the former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb strategically termed as an epidemic. But the ban’s hardly going to cut into JUUL’s profit. In fact, the manufacturer even purchased a 28-story office building, in addition to maintaining their old headquarters in the city, for $400 million.
But that doesn’t mean JUUL’s ignorant about the ban. Currently, it’s taken on a ballot initiative to overrule the ban. Its legitimacy will be put to the voters’ consideration this November after signatures have been collected from the city residents. But the fact is, the banning law might not even go into effect since the law is put into practice seven months after the mayor has signed it. It means vape might become legal even before it was made lawfully illegal.
San Francisco already imposes a ban on all flavored tobacco products, whether combustible or smokeless. However, the resident vote that passed this ban is often seen as a “trick” of Big Tobacco by the ban’s opponents.
But according to the Washington Examiner’s Guy Bentley, there’ll be a bigger and subtler implication if the ban is legislatively legalized. He says that the ban will justify the position of every fear-mongering anti-e-cigarette activist as long as their concern is contained within the “for the children” context.
In fact, the same reasoning has been used by cities all across California to ban flavors. Beverly Hills took it even further and banned all tobacco products, excluding the bounds of expensive hotels and private clubs, of course.
San Francisco has become the first city to use the “for the children” cry to rally enough support for the anti-vaping legislation. This could become the start of a country-wide chain reaction if it actually goes into effect.