For months, San Francisco has been at the center of an ongoing battle over flavored tobacco products. It’s a fight that’s gotten both sides of the debate riled up, from big tobacco’s R.J. Reynolds who has reportedly contributed nearly $12 million in opposition to Proposition E to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who gave $3 million in support of it [Source: San Francisco Ethics Commission]. This week, however, the battle has seemingly been won by those in favor of the flavor ban.
On June 5, a majority of voters in San Francisco came out in favor of the ban on flavored tobacco products by voting for Proposition E. This comes after the city’s supervisors approved an ordinance that banned the sell of flavored tobacco products in 2017. This ban included vaping liquids, flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes. Many against this ordinance came together to get enough signatures to put the ordinance to a referendum before the city’s voters. CNN reported that with 99 percent of the precincts having revealed their results, 68 percent voted in favor of Proposition E while 31 percent came out against it.
There has been a recent trend in legislation to focus on flavored tobacco with anti-tobacco advocates making the claim that flavored tobacco products are often found appealing to minors and underaged users. This year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advanced notice of proposed rule making (ANPRM) aimed at flavored tobacco products [read more here], but it also has crackdown on many e-liquid companies that were found to market their products to teens and underage users often through flavored products [read more here].
Those against the flavor ban argue that such a ban is an overreach by the government and that it takes away an adult’s ability to choose what he or she wants to smoke. They also argue that such bans harm businesses of all sizes and that it could create an illicit market with consumers looking toward other black market sources to purchase these now illegal products. The fear is that similar to the now popular Tobacco 21 laws, other cities and states will now attempt to pass similar flavor bans.
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