Yup, vaping is facing it's first full on ban in the United States, and right here in Virgin Vapor's back yard!
The city of San Francisco already holds the distinction of being perhaps the most vaping unfriendly city in the country. Back in June of 2017, city supervisors approved a ban on the sale of flavored vape juice within city limits. When it went into effect, it led to the immediate shuttering of dozens of vape stores. We remember well because many of those stores carried Kai's Virgin Vapor.
Then in June of 2018, San Francisco raised the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 and decreed that vaping products would be subject to the same regulations as tobacco products, tightening the noose further.
That same month, Proposition E passed with a whopping 68% voter support. With the voter's blessing, the sale of flavored e-juice as well as flavored tobacco products of any kind within the city, even including menthol cigarettes, was permanently banned.
But San Francisco isn't content to stop there. In the last two weeks, it was announced that the city is now seeking to prohibit all sales of vaping products of any kind, banning both in-store and online purchases.
San Francisco has clarified that the newest ban would only be in place until the FDA's coming deeming regulations go into effect. But that's little consolation for the San Francisco residents who, already prohibited from picking up their e-juice refill at the corner store, may soon be unable to even order their vape juice online for delivery by mail.
At the same time, a separate ban was also submitted by City Supervisor Shamann Walton that would also make it illegal to produce or distribute vaping products anywhere in the city.
And here is where it gets interesting. San Francisco is home to JUUL Labs, one of the biggest players in the electronic cigarette industry. The proposed ban would effectively run them out of the city. Could this be the true thrust of the legislation?
"We don't want them in our city," Walton stated flatly. Well, it would appear so.
The proposed bans include wording to specifically prohibit electronic cigarette companies from renting city property. Not surprisingly, for it's base of operations, JUUL Labs rents Pier 70 which is, you guessed it, owned by the city. Ouch.
In their counter attack, reps for JUUL have publicly questioned why the city of San Francisco would be going after vaping while leaving combustible cigarettes untouched. A fair question yet an odd one coming from JUUL considering who their newest masters are. Altria, the makers of Marlboro, bought a 12.8 billion dollar share in JUUL in late 2018 giving them a 35% ownership stake. JUUL might want to be careful about running it's mouth and potentially getting cigarettes embroiled in the ban, too. After all, Big Tobacco is the hand that feeds it.
That not withstanding, why would San Francisco allow cigarettes to be sold at gas stations and convenience stores while enforcing a total ban on vaping products? It sure doesn't make much sense. But then again, neither did San Francisco's ban on electric scooters in 2018 or it's current plot to get rid of cashless stores. And why did San Francisco go after soda while ignoring alcohol? We smell hypocrisy.
We'll have to keep an eye on this as it develops but, for vapers anyway, the City by the Sea is suddenly looking a lot less golden.