and you don't need to look at the public human feces map to see it. Cleaning up all that crap is costing San Francisco over 30 million dollars a year, but despite these obvious expenses they've decided to put another bullet in the foot of public health with their latest eLiquid and vape ban.
If you have identification and are over the age of 21, you can purchase cigarettes, booze, and heck, even marijuana in retail establishments across San Francisco. Starting in July one age restricted product won’t be available for purchase because San Francisco officials, in a terribly misguided attempt to curb teen vaping, are moving to ban sales of all electronic tobacco products to anyone within the city, even online, until the federal government adopts regulations on them.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors gave a high flying thumbs-up to the ban last week, and the supervisors are expected to reaffirm their support in a final vote this Tuesday. Not only is it bad public policy to outlaw a legal product that is widely available just outside the city’s borders and dang near everywhere these days, but it’s straight up bad public health policy to come down hard on the healthier nicotine intake method.
Vaping eLiquids are new enough that we don’t fully understand the long term health effects yet, but the short term evidence is as clear as night and day. It is well established that smoke from conventional combustible cigarettes can kill both smokers and bystanders, and that any longtime smoker is able to quit that deadly habit by switching to vaping.
While smoking rates have dropped significantly among U.S. middle school and high school students, down to just about 8%, vaping is filling the space of combustible smoking and it's causing quite the hysteria. San Francisco’s Youth Risk Behavior Study determined that as of 2017, just 7% of the city’s high schoolers had reported vaping in the last 30 days, putting them just below combustible smoking limits of years past, and making the hysteria obviously unwarranted in light of the stats.
Despite the reality the hysteria is causing such a sensation that public health officials and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are looking to react, quickly and overbearingly in the wrong direction. The FDA has been working on some regulations but the process has been moving so slowly it only allows for the public misinformation to come to a frothy boil. The slow pace doesn’t justify San Francisco’s extreme interim action however, considering there are other products not targeted by this ban that the FDA has yet to deem safe for consumption; such as marijuana, which recently became legal for recreational use in California.
Moreover, the possible consequences of a ban on just this one type of product are concerning. In addition to being easy to evade as plenty of products will still be available at retailers a short drive away, this prohibition will create an opportunity for black marketers inside the city, making it easier for teens to buy vaping goods illegally because no drug dealer asks for any form of identification.
The reality here that is more concerning is that for the adults who vape and can’t get their hands on replacement eLiquids or whatever products they enjoy, they might take up traditional cigarettes out of convenience.
What do you think about this ban? Is it the city doing some kind of virtue signaling, or are they are really thinking they are acting on behalf of the publics' best interest?