City officials voted to stop vaporisers being sold in shops and to ban online retailers from delivering their products to addresses under their jurisdiction.
Californian e-cigarette company Juul – which is based in San Francisco – said that the move would drive young people towards smoking cigarettes and would “create a thriving black market” for e-cigarettes.
Juul is based in San Francisco. Credit: PA
The mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, has now got 10 days in which to decide whether to sign the legislation off. She has already indicated that she would do that.
That would mean that the law would come into effect seven months after the legislation is formally signed, pending a potential legal challenge from companies.
Critics of the e-cigarette industry say that they use flavoured products in order to attract and target young people into using their e-cigarettes.
They also claim that there has not yet been enough scientific investigation into the longer term health implications of vaping and that it may be responsible for driving more young people into smoking traditional cigarettes.
San Francisco is the first US city to ban vaping. Credit: PA
This latest move comes after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) brought out some proposed guidelines for the industry giving companies until 2021 to have their vaping products properly evaluated.
They initially suggested a deadline of August 2018 but then found that they needed more time to get ready for that.
The City Attorney for San Francisco, Dennis Herrera – who was in support of the ban – said that the move was a good thing and a necessary move given what he perceives as an “abdication of responsibility” by the FDA with regard to regulating e-cigarette products.
Whilst the age at which young people can buy tobacco products is currently set at 18 under federal law, in a number of states – including California – the legal age is 21.
Despite that, the number of teenagers in the US who admitted using nicotine products rose by around 36 per cent last year. Some have attributed that growth to an increase in e-cigarette usage.
Juul is the biggest vape company in the USA. Credit: PA
Ted Kwong, a spokesperson for Juul – which has around 70 per cent share of the US vaping market – said: “This full prohibition will drive former adult smokers who successfully switched to vapor products back to deadly cigarettes, deny the opportunity to switch for current adult smokers, and create a thriving black market instead of addressing the actual causes of underage access and use.
“We have already taken the most aggressive actions in the industry to keep our products out of the hands of those underage and are taking steps to do more.”
He went on to say that traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes will “remain untouched by this legislation, even though they kill 40,000 Californians every year”.