Jeremy Wong blows vapor from an e-cigarette at The Vaping Buddha on January 23, 2018 in South San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

San Francisco Vote Could Make It First City To Ban E-Cigarettes

Bob Butler
June 18, 2019 - 11:04 pm

San Francisco Supervisors voted on Tuesday to ban the distribution, sale and manufacturing of e-cigarettes, an unprecedented move in this country that was motivated by the rise in underage vaping

But business owners who sell electronic cigarettes have vowed to put a measure on November’s ballot to overturn the decision.

The supervisors unanimously approved two measures: one banning tobacco products on city property. The other places a moratorium on e-cigarettes until the Food and Drug Administration approves a marketing plan.

“I’m not going to put the profits of big tobacco over the health of our children and our young people,” said Supervisor Shamann Walton, who sponsored the bills. “The ordinance is not a permanent ban. It is a moratorium until due diligence is carried out by the FDA concerning big tobacco companies like Juul marketing to our youth.”

He and his board colleagues expressed support for small business who may be hurt by the action.

Related: Juul and the Teen Vaping Epidemic

That was little consolation to Imad Ibtar who has seen fewer customers at his two Castro District smoke shops since flavored tobacco was banned a year ago.

“When they used to come and buy their cigarettes they used to buy sodas, snacks, lighters, a lot of this stuff,” he said outside the board meeting. “And now all of that is gone. Somewhere between 25% and 30% every day.. this is our loss.”

Banning vaping products will just drive his customers to shop in Daly City or on the black market, he said.

“We see people come in with coats and they have two cartons of cigarettes —menthol, flavored, any kind — they stand outside our business and they they take our business and (all we can do) is watch them," he said. 

After supervisors banned flavored tobacco in 2017, tobacco supporters put a measure on the June 2018 ballot to overturn the action. Voters rejected it and the ban stayed in place.

They are now vowing to put another measure on the November ballot in an attempt to overturn the new ban.