Officials unanimously passed an anti-vaping measure in San Francisco Tuesday, approving the first full sales ban on flavored e-cigarettes in the U.S.
City supervisors are critical of flavored vaping products, arguing that options like cotton candy, banana cream and even mint entice children and serve as a gateway to smoking cigarettes. The ban will only allow for the sale of tobacco flavored products, also banning flavors that mimic the sensation of menthol cigarettes, reports ABC News.
While localities throughout the country have implemented flavor restrictions on vaping products, this is the first full sales ban approved in the U.S. The bill will face a final vote by the city board of supervisors next week, which is likely to pass and be implemented in April 2018.
“There is a great deal of evidence that flavors are critical to helping adults quit smoking by helping them disconnect from the taste of tobacco,” Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, told ABC News. “Unfortunately, San Francisco supervisors ignored that data and the stories about how vaping was the only thing that helped many smokers quit.”
Conley is a former smoker who used watermelon flavored e-cigarettes to quit in 2010. Vaping advocates say the devices offer smokers a viable way to reduce health risks to themselves and those around them. Vaping eliminates up to 95 percent of the risks associated with cigarettes because the majority of cancer-causing chemicals are inhaled through smoke.
Fears over vaping having a youth “gateway effect” to cigarettes appear to be largely unfounded. A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released June 15 reveals after a rapid increase in youth vaping between 2011 and 2015, teens are now giving up the habit. The number of middle school and high school students who use a vaping device dropped from 3 million to 2.2 million in 2016.
Statements from researchers linking e-cigarettes to smoking will often misrepresent what the actual data shows. In one recent example from the Virginia Commonwealth University, researchers studying 3,757 freshmen based their analysis off the metric of vaping “at least one puff in the past six months.”
They claimed the data suggested a gateway effect to smoking, when it actually proved the exact opposite. Only six students from the body of thousands that participated switched from vaping to smoking cigarettes, while 20 students who began the study as smokers transitioned to vaping.
Many health experts argue that promoting vaping over traditional tobacco aids public health, while harsh regulations make smokers less likely to use the device to quit.
Major health groups in England, like the Royal College of Physicians, agree that using e-cigarettes eliminates most of the harms attributed to smoking. They also recommend vaping to patients trying to quit traditional tobacco products.
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