San Francisco Votes To Make It ‘Harder For Adult Smokers To Quit’

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Former smokers relying on electronic cigarettes were dealt a blow by San Francisco voters who approved a ban on all flavored nicotine liquid for vapor products Tuesday.

Results from the city’s Department of Elections show roughly 68 percent of voters backed the contentious Proposition E, which harm reduction advocates say will limit the options for adult smokers attempting to quit the deadly habit. Proposition E bans the sale of flavored vaping products as well as menthol cigarettes, reports CNN.

The ban, which supporters claim will help prevent teens from using vapor and tobacco products, will likely devastate the small business community. Convenience store and vape shop owners say it will upend their bottom lines without addressing the primary access point to these products for teens, which is through third parties like a parent or sibling.

Meanwhile, adults looking to ditch cigarettes will be prevented from choosing the vape flavor that most effectively helps them disassociate from the taste of tobacco. (RELATED: War On Vape Flavors Could Wreak Havoc On The Industry)

“It is a travesty that anti-vaping extremists would mislead SF voters into making it harder for adult smokers to quit,” Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, told CNN.

Anti-vaping activists fear vapor products are serving as a gateway to combustible cigarettes for young Americans. However, while a large amount of teens are experimenting with e-cigarettes, teen smoking is declining to historic lows.

Furthermore, a recent study of high schoolers in San Francisco found a six percent decline in vaping since 2016.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors initially passed the ban in June 2017, but were forced to put the issue to a ballot vote after a coalition of small businesses submitted a petition with 33,941 signatures to the board in September.

Public health experts say that by heavily restricting access to harm reduction alternatives, tobacco control activists are simply protecting the interests of cigarette manufacturers.

“It makes sense to have flavors in the low-risk products as a door to helping smokers leaving cigarettes,” David Sweanor of the Center for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa said in a recent interview on KGO-AM, according to Vaping.org. “If you decide that what you want to do is go after the entire category, you’re really protecting cigarettes.”

Public health experts focused on harm reduction say the misinformed crusade against e-cigarettes in cities across the country risks undoing the gains made in reducing smoking prevalence in the U.S.

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