If passed, Proposition E would make selling flavored tobacco products illegal throughout the city
Members of the city supervisors office in San Francisco moved to ban all flavored e-liquids and tobacco products last year. They even went as far as to change the official city ordinance to say that no flavored tobacco products of any kind are allowed to be sold in the city. The officials voted unanimously to pass the ordinance, which usually would have put it on the fast track to becoming law.
But luckily, vaping advocates in San Francisco wouldn’t have their rights infringed upon so quickly. Ultimately, enough signatures were gathered to force the city supervisors to put their flavor ban to a public vote, named Proposition E. The vote on Prop E is set to take place next Tuesday, June 5th, 2018 and the results will likely garner media coverage from one side or another.
The original proposition that was approved last year aimed to fight youth smoking. They claimed that specific flavors, especially those like deserts or menthol, make it much easier for kids to become addicted since they’re generally less harsh to use. One of the biggest players on the vote yes on Prop E side, which would ban e-liquid flavors, is former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg. He’s reportedly donated over $1.3 million to the Yes-On-E campaign that stylizes themselves as being about SF Kids vs. Big Tobacco. Most of that money has been used on ads that supposedly “level the playing field,” against e-cigarettes despite widespread media coverage of their potential risks.
On the other side is several smaller groups with different ultimate goals. Many supporters of No-On-E are local business owners and vapers who only see severe consequences for rushing this new legislation through. The most significant backer of this effort has also been one of the most controversial, the Big Tobacco company RJ Reynolds. The makers of Newport cigarettes are understandably threatened by the vote, as menthol cigarettes would also be banned if Prop E passes. This has given advocates of the ban plenty of extra ammo, equating the goals of RJ Reynolds with those of everyone else involved in the push to preserve vaping rights and market freedom.
Flavor Bans Elsewhere
New Jersey has faced a similar ban several times now. In fact, now that they have a new Governor, many in the vaping community are worried the flavor ban that was vetoed twice has new life. The ban passed both houses of the legislator before being vetoed, but new Governor Phil Murphy (D) is unlikely to veto the flavor ban like Christie did if it makes its way back to the desk. Making things worse, the effort to fight this ban is facing issues. One of the hearings held about the flavor ban turned into little more than an advertising push, while another had almost no turnout at all. Unfortunately, these types of bans are becoming more common as officials look for new ways to improve their image or deflect from more significant problems.
The peer-reviewed evidence agrees that flavor bans just don’t produce the desired effect. Dr. John Buckell of Yale University conducted research recently published that makes the argument that not only do flavor bans not improve teen cessation efforts, but they may actually be handing a significant advantage to Big Tobacco. After conducting interviews with over 2000 participants and going over the details, Dr. Buckell and his team determined that if menthol cigarettes and e-liquid flavors were banned, nearly 10% of vapers would relapse back to smoking. But if only menthol cigarettes were banned, cigarettes sales across the country would go down almost 5%.
Questions over the effect of vaping on teens have always been at the heart of the e-cigarette debate, and for a good reason. After all, protecting children from something that puts them in serious harm’s way should be avoided. But a growing majority of the research on the topic concludes that acceptance of vaping as a harm reduction and smoking cessation tool isn’t making non-smoking teens more likely to pick vaping or cigarettes. A massive study conducted by Public Health England found that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking students aged 11-16 were vaping on a regular basis.
Laws like this are becoming more common, alongside usage bans and vaping taxes. But moves like these are severely hurting the independent vaping industry, and therefore giving a helping hand to Big Tobacco. That’s why it’s so important we support, not further regulate e-cigarettes. After all, tobacco continues to be the largest cause of preventable death and disease across the globe.
Do you think that flavor bans are keeping vaping away from kids or just making it less enjoyable for adults? How can we adequately protect kids without infringing on our vaping rights? Do you think it’s fair to ban vaping by the same rules as tobacco products? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.
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