Two San Francisco officials proposed a new law Tuesday that would ban the sale of e-cigarettes in the city until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducts a review to evaluate its effect on public health.
Under the legislation, any sale — in-store or online — of an e-cig that has not undergone an FDA review would be prohibited.
“By law, before a new tobacco product goes to market, the Food and Drug Administration is supposed to conduct a review to evaluate its impact on public health,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who co-authored the bill, said in a statement. “Inexplicably, the FDA has failed to do its job when it comes to e-cigarettes. Until the FDA does so, San Francisco has to step up.”
So far, no e-cigarette has been approved by the FDA.
Supervisor Shamann Walton, also a co-author of the bill, introduced a separate piece of legislation that would prohibit the sale, manufacturing and distribution of all tobacco products, including e-cigs, in the California city.
Because the bill would not apply retroactively, Juul Labs — the most popular private manufacturer of e-cigs — would be allowed to stay in the space it rents for its headquarters on Port of San Francisco property on Pier 70, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
But Walton told the Chronicle the legislation should serve as a warning to Juul.
“We don’t want them in our city,” he said, adding, “I don’t eventually want to see them leave this city. I would have liked for them to have been gone yesterday.”
Health officials in the U.S. took a nearly unprecedented move in November toward curbing the use of e-cigarettes among young people, restricting sales of kid-friendly flavors in convenience stores and gas station in hopes of fighting what they describe as an “epidemic” of youth vaping.
The proposed measures are intended to reduce smoking among kids, who tend to prefer menthol cigarettes and flavored vaping products, according to government data.
Since then, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has accused Juul of retreating from an earlier promise to help curtail teenage vaping. But Juul then argued the company remains as committed as ever to stopping underage vaping.
In a statement to FOX Business, Juul said it shared San Francisco’s concerns with the youth usage of vape products, but warned that limiting access to e-cigs could hurt adults who are using the products in an attempt to quit smoking.
“We encourage the City of San Francisco to severely restrict youth access but do so in a way that preserves the opportunity to eliminate combustible cigarettes,” the company said. “This proposed legislation begs the question — why would the City be comfortable with combustible cigarettes being on shelves when we know they kill more than 480,000 Americans per year?"