SAN FRANCISCO — The title of our article is not click bait, unfortunately. San Francisco city supervisors have unanimously approved a new measure that will ban the sale of flavored e-Juice (all nicotine-laced flavored liquids used in e-cigarettes and vape devices).

Sales of vaping liquids (e-liquid) that taste like tobacco (e.g., regular, unflavored juice) will still be allowed.

The city supervisors in San Fran approved this measure because they think that masking the tobacco taste in the nicotine e-juice with flavors (such as fruit, vanilla, mint, and other flavors) is enticing youth into a lifetime of addiction.

Not only is this completely ridiculous, but the vaping issue has gotten out of hand in a number of cities, such as Pennsylvania, where the 40 percent wholesale tax has killed off half of the vape shops in the state. Now, in California, where supporters of a more enlightened breed, apparently don’t have city supervisors who think the same way.

Policy and Tax Hikes are Not Being Kind to the Vape Industry in Pennsylvania

Despite the news that vaping among youth has dropped significantly and the fact that vaping is a novelty to youth and nobody under the age of 18 is legally sold them, the city has ignored this and is punishing adults who vape as a much safer alternative to cigarettes and those who vape to quit smoking. Flavored e-liquid is important to adult vapers who are trying to become healthier — if vapers are quitting cigarettes, the flavors often help wean them off — if the juice is too tobacco-flavored, it can make vaping boring and vapers will go back to cigarettes, which will kill them.

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This is a very misguided attempt at seemingly like they are doing something about youth smoking. The real enemy here is smoking cigarettes. You don’t see the city supervisors banning flavored alcohol or spirits, do you? Or flavored cigarillos? No, because vaping is an easy target due to lack of information. You won’t even find them making as big of a deal about marijuana as you do with flavored e-juice. It’s insane.

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Supervisor Malia Cohen, who sponsored the bill stated that they were “focusing on flavored products because they are widely considered to be a starter product for future smokers.” This is where they are dead wrong. The starter product for future smokers are cigarettes. The future of alcoholics is alcohol — not flavors that are put into them to make them more palatable. Kids will always try novelties like smoking and drinking (and now, vaping) when the newest thing comes out, but changing the entire adult vaping industry because of a few minors who are engaging in illegal activities isn’t the answer — perhaps it is best to create policies that decrease or eliminate youth from getting their hands on tobacco products (common sense would agree).

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The measure by the city supervisors of San Francisco was approved Tuesday still requires another vote by the board next week, and is expected to pass. If passed as expected, the law would take effect in April of 2018.

Supervisor Cohen represents the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, which is historically black — and guess what? Tobacco companies advertise 10 times as much in black neighborhoods than they do other communities, and they market fruit-flavored and candy products to younger people, minorities, and the LGBTQ community more than in white neighborhoods.

Since this is true, and abhorrent, Cohen has taken it out of context and rather than going after big tobacco’s terrible marketing practices, the city will punish the vapers living in San Francisco. She has stated that “This legislation is about saying enough is enough” to “the tobacco industry [that] has selectively targeted our young adults with products that are deceptively associated with fruits and mint and candy.”

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While we can appreciate the sentiment, this is a ridiculous and half-hearted way of trying to fix a huge problem — the issue is the city supervisors are not actually confronting the issue itself. This legislation will do nothing for youth who try vaping. The decrease of vaping among youth will continue to decrease despite this legislation but we fear that adult vaping will decrease (and cigarette smoking increase) as a result.

We suggest to the vapers of San Francisco: head online. We definitely suggest you support your local vape shop by purchasing everything you can before turning to online retailers. If you use regular tobacco-flavored e-liquid, continue buying your juice at your favorite local shop. If you are in San Fran and want flavored e-juice, don’t let this legislation stop you — while it is banning the sales of flavored e-juice, you can still purchase your juice online and have it shipped.

Unfortunately, this will undoubtedly impact the vaping industry in this Californian city. Small business owners have stated that they know they will lose business because vapers will still be able to purchase flavored e-liquid online or in neighboring cities.

Once again, by targeting an anchor product, the local government is going to negatively impact another U.S. city despite all of the data that proves vaping is much safer than smoking, is relatively harmless to bystanders, and is not a significant threat to youth.

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