San Francisco proposes legislation to ban e-cigarettes until their effects are reviewed by the FDA
City Attorney Dennis Herrera called on the FDA to review vaping effects before they are allowed in public, prompting the agency to release proposed guidelines last week giving companies until 2021 to submit applications for the evaluation.
A San Francisco public official proposed on Tuesday what's believed to be the first US ban on electronic cigarettes until the federal government regulates vaping products after several critics have claimed they significantly jeopardize the well being of children, Associated Press reports.
In a joint letter written by city officials from San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, the US Food and Drug Administration was urged to evaluate the effect of e-cigarettes on public health, according to City Attorney Dennis Herrera. While Herrera was of the view that the review should have been conducted before the devices entered the market, the FDA released proposed guidelines last week so that companies can submit applications for the evaluation anytime until 2021.
"The result is that millions of children are already addicted to e-cigarettes and millions more will follow if we don't act," Herrera said on Tuesday.
Youth in the US are more likely than adults to use e-cigarettes, which contains nicotine and is especially harmful to adolescent brains that are still developing. San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton put forth a legislation banning the sale of e-cigarettes until they get a thorough review from the FDA. While the chances of it being approved are slim, it would be the first such prohibition in the country if the bill makes it through.
Walton, a former president of the San Francisco Board of Education, said, "We have people addicted to nicotine who would have never smoked a cigarette had it not been for the attractive products that target our young people."
San Francisco prohibits smoking in parks and doesn't allow smokeless tobacco at its playing fields. It was the first city in the United States to approve a total ban on the sale and distribution of flavored tobacco and flavored vaping liquids, which voters upheld in 2018. In 2017, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb delayed the deadline until 2022 after manufacturers failed to submit most products for review by August 2018, the previous limit. According to him, both the agency as well as the industry had a lot to prepare for before initiating the procedure.
According to the FDA's proposed guidelines, the sale of most flavored products to stores will be restricted, in that customers will be required to verify their age upon entry to a store and use a separate, age-restricted zone for purchasing vaping merchandise. Over 3.6 million middle and high school students in the US have used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Having said that, the proposed legislation also bars making, selling or distributing tobacco on city property. Walton admitted the proposal is actually aimed at Juul Labs, an electronic cigarette company that rents working space on Pier 70. "We don't want them in our city," he said. According to a spokesman for Juul, the newly introduced bill would limit access to e-cigarettes and could help regular smokers kick their unhealthy habits.