San Francisco to become first US city to ban e-cigarette sales amid vaping crackdown

Chris Riotta

San Francisco is set to become the first US city to effectively ban all sales of e-cigarettes amid an increasing crackdown on vaping products.

The city’s board of supervisors will reportedly pass an ordinance on Tuesday requiring any e-cigarette products sold in the region to have undergone a premarket review by the US Food and Drug Administration.

“No person shall sell or distribute an electronic cigarette to a person in San Francisco” without the review, the ordinance read.

Currently there is no e-cigarette product on the market nationwide that has underwent the administration’s premarket review, CNN reported.

The ordinance would likely pose difficulties for prominent makers of e-cigarettes like Juul Labs, which is headquartered in San Francisco.

The city’s board of supervisors passed an initial vote on the ordinance last week.

Officials have long argued e-cigarette products like Juuls are required to undergo the administration’s review process before it can be sold — and that their existence on the market speaks to a larger breakdown in processes and safety provisions put in place to promote public health.

“E-cigarettes are a product that, by law, are not allowed on the market without FDA review. For some reason, the FDA has so far refused to follow the law," Dennis Herrera, San Francisco’s city attorney, said in a statement after the initial vote.

"Now, youth vaping is an epidemic," he added. “If the federal government is not going to act to protect our kids, San Francisco will."

Meanwhile, the FDA has taken steps to remove e-cigarette products from the market in recent months, threatening to remove companies that sell flavoured tobaccos that can be enticing to underage consumers. The administration has also led an effort to get companies on board with regulations by issuing guidances on how they can file premarket tobacco product applications.

The FDA has been sued by health groups arguing the e-cigarette products should not be allowed to remain on the market until 2022 without such authorizations in place, as the FDA has allowed.

Juul Labs has argued against the ordinance, saying in a statement on Monday, “the prohibition of vapour products for all adults in San Francisco will not effectively address underage use and will leave cigarettes on shelves as the only choice for adult smokers."