Thursday 17 October 2019

E-cigarette sales facing ban in San Francisco

‘Targeting kids’: Some 3.8m US children vaped in 2018 as the habit grew in popularity. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
‘Targeting kids’: Some 3.8m US children vaped in 2018 as the habit grew in popularity. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Ben Riley-Smith in Washington

San Francisco has become the first major city in the United States to effectively ban the sale of e-cigarettes, reacting to a dramatic rise in the number of young Americans who vape.

The city's legislature has approved an ordinance which will bar the sale, manufacture or distribution of e-cigarettes.

The ban will come into effect when the mayor signs the legislation, which is expected to happen next month.

There will be a $1,000 (€879) fine for each violation by vendors.

Supporters of the move argued that it would help tackle nicotine addiction among the young.

They noted that the health impacts of vaping remained largely unknown, given that it is such a new phenomenon.

However, critics and e-cigarette producers warned that it would drive more people to smoke traditional cigarettes, which carry more serious health impacts.

Vaping involves inhaling the aerosol from e-cigarettes, which are battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale addictive nicotine liquids that are often fruit-flavoured.

The practice has soared in popularity among youngsters in the US in recent years.

About 3.8m American children between 11 and 18 were found to have vaped in 2018.

London Breed, the mayor of San Francisco who says she will sign the legislation, argued that the change would help protect the city's children.

"We need to take action to protect the health of San Francisco's youth and prevent the next generation of San Franciscans from becoming addicted to these products," Ms Breed said.

Ms Breed added that e-cigarette companies were "targeting our kids in their advertising and getting them hooked on addictive nicotine products".

E-cigarettes do not contain the cancer-causing products found in tobacco.

However, critics questioned whether the ban would drive users back to cigarettes.

An editorial in the 'Los Angeles Times' noted that regular cigarettes were still for sale in San Francisco.

It argued that "it's bad public health policy to come down harder on the lesser of two tobacco evils".

Juul, a market-leading e-cigarette brand which is based in the city, also criticised the decision publicly.

The company warned in a statement yesterday that the ban would "drive former adult smokers, who successfully switched to vapour products, back to deadly cigarettes, deny the opportunity to switch for current adult smokers, and create a thriving black market". (© Daily Telegraph London)

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