San Francisco legislatures voted unanimously to ban the sale of e-cigarettes, becoming the first major U.S. city to do so as teenage vaping has reached “an epidemic proportion.”
The city’s Board of Supervisors approved the ordinance on Tuesday, which the mayor is expected to sign into law. The bill will stop the sales of e-cigarettes that have not been approved by federal regulators — at this point, none have.
“We’ve worked for decades to decrease tobacco usage and try to end nicotine addiction,” said Shamann Walton, a member of the board of supervisors and a co-author of the bill, according to the New York Times. “Now you have this device loaded with nicotine and chemicals that’s drawing people to addiction. We need to keep it out of the hands of young people.”
The ordinance will go into effect 30 days after the mayor signs the bill, and retail stores will have six months empty out their stocks of e-cigarette products.
E-cigarette companies were not happy with the decision. Juul, which is headquartered in San Francisco, said that this will reverse their successful efforts to get people away from more toxic cigarettes.
“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,” Juul said in a statement shared with PEOPLE.
The main concern for San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is the rise in teen use of e-cigarettes. City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who co-authored the ordinance, said that they had to step in and ban sales because the Food and Drug Administration is not doing enough to stop the epidemic.
“This is a decisive step to help prevent another generation of San Francisco children from becoming addicted to nicotine,” he said, according to NPR. “This temporary moratorium wouldn’t be necessary if the federal government had done its job. E-cigarettes are a product that, by law, are not allowed on the market without FDA review. For some reason, the FDA has so far refused to follow the law. If the federal government is not going to act, San Francisco will.”
The FDA has been working on trying to curb teen vaping. They demanded plans from e-cigarette makers on how they will stop illegal teen usage and raided Juul’s offices in September over concerns about the company’s old marketing tactics towards youth users. Juul, which controls 74 percent of the e-cigarette market, announced in November that they would stop selling their flavored pods in stores to limit teen use.
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 and 2018.
“We see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion, and we must adjust certain aspects of our comprehensive strategy to stem this clear and present danger,” FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement in September.
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