The ordinance says “no person shall sell or distribute an electronic cigarette to a person in San Francisco” unless that product has undergone premarket review by the US Food and Drug Administration. To date, none have.
This includes sales in brick-and-mortar stores, as well as online sales shipped to a San Francisco address. The ordinance also applies to flavored tobacco products in addition to e-cigarettes. The measure does not ban the use of vapes among people 21 and older.
“This is a decisive step to help prevent another generation of San Francisco children from becoming addicted to nicotine,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera in a statement, following the vote.
The measure now heads to Mayor London Breed’s desk. In a statement Tuesday ahead of the vote, she expressed her support.
“I support the legislation authored by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Supervisor Shamann Walton to suspend the sale of e-cigarettes in San Francisco until the Food and Drug Administration concludes a review of the impacts of vaping on public health,” said Breed. “There is so much we don’t know about the health impacts of these products, but we do know that e-cigarette companies are targeting our kids in their advertising and getting them hooked on addictive nicotine products. 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.”
After being signed, the ordinance becomes an effective policy 30 days later. It is set to be fully implemented six months after that.
In a statement Tuesday following the vote, Juul spokesman Ted Kwong said, “this full prohibition will drive former adult smokers who successfully switched to vapor products back to deadly cigarettes, deny the opportunity to switch for current adult smokers, and create a thriving black market instead of addressing the actual causes of underage access and use.”
The policy also sets the stage for what could be a longer clash over e-cig regulation. Juul is also behind a ballot initiative that experts worry could roll back the city ordinance if voters approve it in upcoming elections.
On Tuesday, Kwong described Juul’s plans to support “new strict regulation and enforcement, instead of prohibition.” The company’s proposals include electronic age verification technology, limiting the amount of the product that can be purchased at one time, and city permits for online sellers of vaping products.
Juul has already amassed the signatures required to move forward with the proposal, according to a statement Monday.
“Now, youth vaping is an epidemic,” he continued. “If the federal government is not going to act to protect our kids, San Francisco will.”