Having solved all of its other problems, San Francisco, California, became the first city to officially ban the use and sale of e-cigarettes and vape pens inside city limits.
CNN reports that the city’s Board of Supervisors voted in favor of the ordinance Tuesday afternoon, ending questions over whether San Francisco would take the leap, ahead of every other major American city, and take aim at e-cigarette users alongside traditional smokers.
The ban is primarily a ban on sales, and reads: “no person shall sell or distribute an electronic cigarette to a person in San Francisco.” E-cigarette sales are off limits inside San Francisco city limits, and that language applies both to brick-and-mortar retailers and to online shops, which cannot ship to recipients at a San Francisco address (though that provision seems oddly difficult to police).
There is a catch, though. The city will reconsider its ban on e-cigarettes if one is approved for use by the Federal Food and Drug Administration. So far, CNN reports, the FDA has passed.
Unfortunately for San Francisco residents who might want to avoid vapers and e-cig users altogether, the ban does not apply to actually using vapes or e-cigarettes. If you can obtain an electronic device and are over the age of 21, San Francisco will not prosecute you for vaping in public unless you run afoul of the city’s smoking ban, which limits the use of all forms of cigarettes in most public places.
The city’s mayor says the purpose of the ban is to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of middle- and high-schoolers, since the long-term effects of vaping are currently unknown.
“There is so much we don’t know about the health impacts of these products, but we do know that e-cigarette companies are targeting our kids in their advertising and getting them hooked on addictive nicotine products,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement Tuesday, announcing that she will sign the e-cig ban. “We need to take action to protect the health of San Francisco’s youth and prevent the next generation of San Franciscans from becoming addicted to these products.”
The mayor also referenced the 1990s tobacco lawsuits, claiming that the new law was an effort to stop the long-term harm of ingesting nicotine from an e-cigarette before such harm became so substantial, it resulted in class action litigation.
Oddly enough, while San Francisco may not want e-cigarette stores and vape pens staining the city’s stellar reputation for cleanliness and class, they are more than happy to take money from e-cigarette manufacturers. Although the new law prevents the manufacture, distribution, and sale of e-cigs, NPR reports that San Francisco just inked a deal with one of the nation’s largest e-cig manufacturers and sellers, Juul Labs, to lease space from the city on the city’s Pier 70.
The city promises, however, that they won’t ink any further land deals with e-cig manufacturers. It won’t, however, stand in the way when Juul moves from its current home to a 28-story office building in downtown San Francisco later this year, and certainly won’t return Juul’s property taxes or any of the money they make on the estimated $300 million sale.
San Francisco’s city board did not rule on any legislation, Tuesday, dealing with the city’s ongoing homelessness crisis, which is now threatening to spill over into the San Francisco Bay as the city’s transient population reaches critical capacity. The health and safety issues posed by the 70,000+ homeless people currently sleeping rough on San Francisco’s streets are being dealt with, the city says, but after they ban e-cigarettes.