SAN FRANCISCO became the first major US city to effectively ban the sale and manufacture of electronic cigarettes, as concerns grow over a sharp rise in vaping among youths. The city’s legislature unanimously approved an ordinance suspending the sale in shops or online of e-cigarette products that lack approval by federal health authorities. No such approvals currently exist. Backers said the ban was necessary due to the “significant public health consequences” of a “dramatic surge” in e-cigarette use among teenagers. But the move triggered a swift backlash from critics who say it could drive former smokers back to conventional cigarettes.
US health authorities are alarmed by the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes, battery-powered devices that enable users to inhale addictive nicotine liquids that are often fruit flavored.
The potential health consequences of vaping, including fears it could stunt adolescent development, remain largely unknown, in part because the practice is so new.
The number of young Americans using e-cigarettes grew by 1.5 million in 2018, with about 3.6 million middle and high school students using vaping products.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who co-sponsored the ban, said it closed a loophole that the federal U.S. Food and Drug Administration should have tackled long ago.
“E-cigarettes are a product that, by law, are not allowed on the market without FDA review,” he said in a statement after the second and final vote to implement the ban.
“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.”