Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for a ban on flavored tobacco products. Now, one city is poised to do just that: San Francisco took steps this week to become the first city to approve a sales ban on flavored vaping liquids in a bid to prevent young adults from becoming addicted to the products.
The Associated Press reports that San Francisco city supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a measure to ban the sale of flavored nicotine used in electronic cigarettes and flavored tobacco products.
While the measure requires a second vote by the board next week, the AP reports it is expected to pass.
The ordinance, which would take effect in April 2018 if passed, aims to reduce the number of children who become addicted to nicotine after being lured to the products via flavors such as strawberry, cotton-candy, and others. The legislation does not prevent the sale of tobacco-flavored liquid nicotine.
If a business is found to be in violation of the law, they could have their city tobacco sales permit suspended.
“We’re focusing on flavored products because they are widely considered to be a starter product for future smokers,” Supervisor Malia Cohen, who sponsored the bill, tells the AP.
Cohen notes that the ordinance also aims to counter tobacco companies’ advertisements that, she believes, unfairly target fruit-flavored products to young people, the LGBTQ community, and other minorities.
“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,” she 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.”
While the supervisors are expected to pass the ordinance next week, many small businesses and vaping industry groups are pushing back, the AP reports.
Some business owners say that if the ban goes into effect, they could lose customers who may just go online or to other cities to buy the flavored products.
The American Vaping Association tell the AP that the ordinance is “complete nonsense” and doesn’t take into account recent stats that suggest flavored tobacco helps people quit smoking.
Specifically, president Gregory Conley pointed to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that found the number of high school students using e-cigarettes fell from 3 million to 2.2 million from 2015 to 2016.