In a farcical turn of events, the residents of San Francisco have voted for an outright ban on all e-liquid flavours. In 2017, an amendment to the Health Code was approved by the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco which would ban the sale of flavoured e-liquids.
A referendum was then put to the residents of the Californian city and absurdly almost 70% voted in favour of the ban. There were over 147,000 votes in total and over 10,000 of these voted ‘Yes’ in the ‘Referendum to approve the Ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products in San Francisco.’
Incredibly, less than 47,000 respondents voted against the flavour ban, just 32% of the ballot return. With an increasingly positive approach being taken to vaping in the UK and many other countries, why have the residents of San Francisco voted in favour of this mindless ban?
In the US, anti-vaping campaigners focus heavily on the unproven proposition that vaping is a threat to young people. The gateway theory and nicotine addiction are misplaced and the media’s influence is relentless.
Despite the positive impact vaping has had on smoking rates, this proposed ban was portrayed as a battle against Big Tobacco rather than the vaping industry.
Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg has been at the forefront of the campaign against e-liquid flavours. According to the San Francisco Ethics Commission, Bloomberg contributed over $3 million to support the ban.
Further support for the ban came from anti-vaping groups which employ haphazard agendas. Tobacco-Free Kids published a smug press release following the result in which the organisation’s President, Mathhew Myers said: “San Francisco’s groundbreaking law stands – and will stop the tobacco industry from targeting kids, African Americans and other populations with menthol- and candy-flavored products, as the industry has done for far too long. The San Francisco vote gives a powerful boost to growing efforts around the country to end the sale of flavored tobacco products.”
Using Big Tobacco as a Smokescreen?
Throughout Myers’ statement the theme was focused heavily on Big Tobacco and in particular, R.J Reynolds. This tobacco company supposedly opposed the ban with a campaign worth almost $12 million.
A lot of money, however the source of the campaign presumedly wouldn’t help the cause and would simply add ammunition for manipulative anti-vaping activists. This potentially allowed them to twist the concept of e-liquids as “Big Tobacco targeting children” rather than the forward thinking approach that these flavours make a tobacco harm reduction product more attractive to smokers than traditional tobacco.
Many anti-smoking professionals believe this consumer choice plays a key positive role for public health. Vapers are empowered and can make their own choice, rather than being told what they can or can’t do. Taking this power away dramatically reduces the attractiveness for smokers to make the switch to vaping.
Menthol cigarettes and flavoured cigars are also included in the ban. Treating these products within the same legislation bridges the gap between traditional smoking and vaping. This manipulates the public into believing e-cigarettes are just another money making tool controlled by Big Tobacco.