San Francisco to ban sale of e-cigarettes
26 June 2019, 00:27 | Updated: 26 June 2019, 12:57
San Francisco is to ban the sale of e-cigarettes because of increasing use of the nicotine devices by teenagers.
The ban on sale and distribution will begin next year and remain in place until e-cigarettes are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
While other cities and states in the US have already taken steps to limit the sale of vaping devices, such as raising the age for buying nicotine products to 21, none has introduced rules as draconian as those in San Francisco.
US government data from 2018 showed a 78% increase in e-cigarette use among US high school students, with San Francisco based company Juul the main beneficiary. It is now the dominant e-cigarette maker in the US.
Producers had originally been given until 2018 to submit applications to the FDA to sell products - this was then pushed back to 2022, before being revised again to 2021 because of concerns over the increase in teenage use.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said the ban was necessary because of what he called an "abdication of responsibility" by the FDA in regulating e-cigarettes.
"This lack of clarity is causing tremendous confusion at the same time that a whole new generation of young people are getting addicted to nicotine," he said. "The explosion in youth use and the health risks to young people are undeniable."
Reacting to the ban Juul said it had already taken steps to reduce the appeal of e-cigarettes for teenagers by cutting some flavours and shutting its Facebook and Instagram accounts.
And company spokesman Ted Kwong said the San Francisco ban might actually do more harm than good.
He claimed 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."
E-cigarettes are generally thought to be safer than traditional cigarettes which kill up to half of all lifetime users.
Public Health England says they are 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco. However this has been disputed by some experts who say the long-term effects of e-cigarettes have yet to be evaluated.
(c) Sky News 2019: San Francisco to ban sale of e-cigarettes