San Francisco may soon become the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes as part of the city’s attempt to curb vaping among younger users.
City supervisors voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance on Tuesday, though the measure will see a second and final vote next week before it is put into place, according to NBC News.
The ordinance deems the increase in e-cigarette use among the city’s youth an “epidemic,” and aims to bar the sale, manufacturing and distribution of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, on all city property.
The measure cites the products’ use of nicotine which, according to the Surgeon General, can “impact learning, memory and attention” when exposed to people under 25.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the use of middle and high school students who use tobacco products jumped from 3.6 million to 4.9 million between 2017-8.
San Francisco previously approved an ordinance last year that banned the sale of flavored tobacco products in an attempt to curb its appeal to younger consumers.
It previously banned the sale of e-cigarettes in places where traditional tobacco products were prohibited in 2014.
NBC Bay Area reports that city supervisors plan to create a working group to help small business owners who may be impacted by the measure, should it pass.
Still, the ordinance has faced criticism from companies like the San Francisco-based company Juul, the largest e-cigarette company in the country.
Juul’s website says its mission is to “eliminate cigarettes,” and promotes e-cigarettes as a positive alternative to cigarettes for people who already smoke. It does, however, note that vaping can have a “negative effect” when used by people who don’t already smoke.
In a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle, a spokesperson for the company argued the Juul has taken steps to decrease its appeal to younger users, such as deleting its social media, and that banning e-cigarettes entirely would do more harm than good.
“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,” spokesman Ted Kwong said.
The Chronicle also reports that the company is hoping to pass a ballot measure in November that would override the city’s ban.
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