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Juul's Push To Repeal E-Cigarette Ban Could Be More Far Reaching, Voting Board Says

Melissa Culross
August 09, 2019 - 3:36 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — An obscure step in San Francisco’s elections process became the center of a heated fight Friday over an upcoming ballot measure to overturn the city’s ban on e-cigarettes.

The city’s Board of Supervisors approved banning the sale of any e-cigarette product that has not been approved by the FDA back in June. So far, none of the vaping products has completed the FDA’s review process.

That ban prompted e-cigarette maker Juul to sponsor a ballot measure that would overturn the ban and replace it with a looser set of regulations. 

But the city’s Ballot Simplification Committee, which writes summaries of each ballot measure for the voter guide, believe Juul's measure could go even further than the vaping company has suggested. 

Related: Juul Under Investigation For Marketing Claims About Smoking

The committee’s draft language says it “may repeal other City laws that apply to electronic cigarettes, including the City law that prohibits the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes.” That measure was put in place by voters in 2018.

Representatives from Juul appeared in front of the committee Friday, asking them to strike that language from the voter guide, to no avail.

“I know that it doesn’t overturn the flavor ban,” said attorney Nicholas Sanders, who represents Juul. “I think any lawyer who knows this type of law knows that it won’t overturn the flavor ban.”

While the committee is unlikely to consider any more requests to change the language, attorney Emily Andrews with SF Kids vs Big Tobacco said the fight is far from over.

"There's potentially more to come on this during the rest of August," said Andrews, pointing to approaching deadlines for supporters and opponents to argue over the language that will appear on the ballots. 

The measure will go in front of voters in November.

Written by Jessica Yi.