POLITICS

San Francisco Votes To Maintain Ban On E-Cigarette Sales

The effort to overturn the ban suffered when e-cigarette company Juul pulled out of the campaign.

San Francisco voters have rejected 80% to 20% an effort to overturn the city’s existing ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes. 

The vote maintains a June ordinance by the city’s board of supervisors to prohibit the sale of all e-cigarettes that haven’t undergone premarket review by the Food and Drug Administration ― effectively banning them all because the FDA has yet to approve any.

Putting up that barrier is “just common sense,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said at the time of the ban’s passage.

Major e-cigarette brand Juul Labs, which is based in San Francisco, largely bankrolled the campaign in favor of the failed proposition. But after sinking $19 million into the campaign, the company pulled its support in September amid an outbreak of lung illnesses and deaths related to the use of vaping products, including e-cigarettes and vaporizers used to smoke marijuana. 

The decision came shortly after the FDA announced it was investigating Juul’s ads in the San Francisco campaign that claimed vaping products were safer than cigarettes ― an assertion that, thus far, is not backed by any scientific evidence.

As of last month, the vaping health crisis has been linked to 26 deaths and nearly 1,300 instances of lung injury.

City Supervisor Shamann Walton, who co-authored the board’s June ban, criticized Juul for not taking its withdrawal from the campaign a step further and denouncing the proposition altogether. 

“[P]ulling the plug is not enough,” Walton said in a statement in September. “If JUUL is to be trusted on its commitment to engage productively with San Francisco moving forward, my request shouldn’t be hard. JUUL must share responsibility for defeating Prop C by asking San Franciscans themselves to vote ‘no.’”

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