San Francisco Becomes First City in US to Ban Sale of Flavored Vaping Liquid

E-cigarette / AP
June 21, 2017

San Francisco on Wednesday became the first city in the U.S. to pass a measure that bans the sale of flavored nicotine-containing liquids used in electronic cigarettes and other vaping products.

In a unanimous vote, the San Francisco city supervisors passed the ban, the Associated Press reports. The supervisors cited flavors like cotton candy, banana cream, and mint, saying that the juice "entices kids into a lifetime of addiction."

"We're focusing on flavored products because they are widely considered to be a starter product for future smokers," said Supervisor Malia Cohen, the bill's sponsor.

San Francisco is the first city in the nation to pass an out-and-out ban, although other cities have reduced access to the liquid. Sale of tobacco-flavored vaping liquid will still be allowed.

Cohen, who represents a historically black neighborhood in San Francisco, claimed that tobacco companies selectively targeted young, black, and gay Americans, and the bill is about saying "enough is enough."

"For too many years, the tobacco industry has selectively targeted our young adults with products that are deceptively associated with fruits and mint and candy," Cohen said. "Menthol cools the throat so you don't feel the smoke and the irritants and it masks the flavors. This legislation is about saying enough is enough."

Cohen's grandmother died of emphysema after years of smoking mentholated cigarettes.

San Francisco small business owners have objected vehemently to the measure, which they say will lead to San Franciscans simply buying their e-liquid online or in other cities.

"Those tobacco products aren't 100 percent of our revenue, but they are an anchor product," Miriam Zouzounis, a board member of the Arab American Grocers Association, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Even at 15 percent of our stock, it's what brings people through the door. We can't compete with Safeway or Walgreens for food and milk items, let alone the online retailers filling the gap for everything else," she said.

A second vote will be required to confirm the bill next week; it is expected to pass. If it does, the law will be enacted next April.