The City Where Juul Is Headquartered Takes Big Step Toward Banning E-Cigarette Sales

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Evie Fordham Politics and Health Care Reporter
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E-cigarette sales could be outlawed in San Francisco after the city’s Board of Supervisors voted 11-0 Tuesday for the measure aimed at combating teen vaping.

“We spent the ’90s battling Big Tobacco and now we see the new form in e-cigarettes,” Supervisor Shamann Walton, who co-authored the bill, said according to The San Francisco Chronicle. “I’m not going to put the profits of Big Tobacco over the health of young people.”

But major e-cigarette company Juul, which is headquartered in the city, and local business owners are not fans of the proposition. Juul is working to get a measure to override the e-cigarette ban on the ballot in November, reported The San Francisco Chronicle. The ban would end e-cigarette sales in-stores as well as online package deliveries until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviews the safety of vaping. (RELATED: Juul To Cooperate With Congressional Investigation)

Juul issued the following statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation on Wednesday:

We share the Board of Supervisors’ goal to keep tobacco and vapor products out of the hands of anyone under 21, which is why we have already taken the most aggressive actions in the industry. …

But the prohibition of vapor products for all adults in San Francisco will not effectively address underage use and will leave cigarettes on shelves as the only choice for adult smokers, even though they kill 40,000 Californians every year. We will continue to work with local policymakers, small businesses, community leaders and adult smokers who have switched to vapor products to enact stronger regulation and enforcement rather than complete prohibition.

Vape shop and convenience store owners say they need e-cigarette sales to stay in business.

A sign advertising Juul brand vaping products is seen outside a shop in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., February 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

A sign advertising Juul brand vaping products is seen outside a shop in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., February 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

“I’m outraged,” Carlos Solorzano, CEO of the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce of San Francisco, said according to The San Francisco Chronicle. “They have no idea how this is going to impact small businesses and our employees. We’re going to oppose it as strongly as we can. They can’t take away a right to choose for adults who want to buy legally.”

The bill could be signed by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, a Democrat, as early as next week. It would go into effect within seven months of becoming official, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

The board also wants to pass a measure prohibiting the sale, manufacturing and distribution of e-cigarettes on city property, which could affect Juul’s head office on Pier 70, a city-owned property. Juul argues that the company only conducts research and product development at the site, reported The San Francisco Chronicle.

The city’s crackdown comes days after Juul said it plans to cooperate with a House subcommittee’s investigation into its activities, including advertisements that critics say were aimed at teenagers.

The warning letters come as the country moves toward a 21-plus policy for tobacco products. On the corporate level, there is the example of Walmart, which decided in May to stop selling fruit-flavored e- cigarettes and will only sell tobacco products to customers aged 21 and over.

More than 3.6 million middle and high school students were e-cigarette users in 2018, a “dramatic” uptick that ended years of decline in overall youth nicotine use, the FDA published in a survey in November.

“The FDA is committed to continuing to tackle the troubling epidemic of e-cigarette use among kids,” an FDA spokesperson told TheDCNF in a statement Wednesday. “This includes limiting youth access to, and appeal of, flavored tobacco products like e-cigarettes and cigars, taking action against manufacturers and retailers who illegally market or sell these products to minors, and educating youth about the dangers of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products.”

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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