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San Francisco closer to ban on e-cigarette sales

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco supervisors moved a step closer today to becoming the first city in the U.S. to ban all sales of electronic cigarettes to crack down on youth vaping.

In a unanimous vote, supervisors approved a ban on the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes until the Food and Drug Administration completes a review of their effects on public health. Another proposal would ban the manufacturing of e-cigarettes on city property. The measures will require a subsequent vote before becoming law.

"We spent the '90s battling big tobacco, and now we see its new form in e-cigarettes," supervisor Shamann Walton said.

The supervisors acknowledged the legislation would not entirely prevent youth vaping, but they hoped it would be a start.

"This is about thinking about the next generation of users and thinking about protecting the overall health and sending a message to the rest of the state and the country: Follow our lead," Supervisor Ahsha Safaí said.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera said young people "have almost indiscriminate access to a product that shouldn't even be on the market." Because the FDA has not acted, he said, "it's unfortunately falling to states and localities to step into the breach."

Most experts agree that e-cigarettes are less harmful than the paper-and-tobacco variety because they do not produce all the cancer-causing byproducts found in cigarette smoke. But researchers say they are only beginning to understand the risks of e-cigarettes, which they think may damage the lungs and blood vessels.

Since 2014, e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among young people in the country. Last year, 1 in 5 U.S. high-school students reported vaping in the previous month, according to a government survey .

FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum said in a statement that the agency will continue to fight e-cigarette use, including preventing youth access to the products, taking action against manufacturers and retailers who illegally market or sell the products to minors and educating young people about health risks.