Seigel blasts San Francisco’s proposed vape ban as ‘insane’
The city of San Francisco is at it again, this time proposing new legislation that would ban the sales of all electronic cigarettes in the Bay Area. The news is just the next step in the city’s longstanding war on vaping which follows the passage of Prop E of last year prohibiting the sales of flavored e-liquids throughout the region.
Ridiculously, the proposed city ordinance also contains an obscure legal loophole. Perhaps in an effort to demonstrate that city officials are not specifically targeting vaping products for purely political reasons, city attorney Dennis Herrera includes an out clause. According to the press release, only those products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can be sold in San Francisco retail establishments.
“In coordination with the City Attorney’s Office, Supervisor Walton is introducing ground-breaking legislation at the Board of Supervisors today that would prohibit the sale in San Francisco of any e-cigarette that has not undergone FDA review. Under this legislation, any e-cigarette that is required to have, but has not received, FDA premarket review could not be sold at a store in San Francisco or bought online and shipped to a San Francisco address until the FDA completes its review and allows the products to be sold.”
Conveniently, Mr. Herrera fails to mention that not a single vapor product has been approved by the FDA since the new deeming regulations were first rolled out approximately two years ago. In fact, the application Pre-Market Application (PMTA) guidelines are still not clearly defined, which essentially leaves vapor retailers and their customers in a sort of legal limbo. And Herrera knows it.
Dr. Michael Seigel weighs in on San Francisco’s proposed vaping ban
Vaping advocate and tobacco control expert Dr. Michael Seigel is also a highly-regarded professor at the Boston University School of Public Health. Within 24-hours of Herrera making his proposal public, Seigel released a scathing rebuke in a March 20 post on his blog The Rest of the Story: Tobacco and Alcohol News Analysis and Commentary. As the basis of his argument, Seigel states that the idea of banning electronic cigarettes while refusing to banish conventional combustible tobacco products is utterly “insane.”
“This has to be one of the most insane public health proposals I have ever seen. This legislation basically says: ‘We care so much about the health of our kids that we can't allow e-cigarettes to remain on the market until they have a complete safety review. However, we are perfectly happy allowing cigarettes--which have had extensive safety reviews and been found to be killing hundreds of thousands of Americans each year--to remain on the market. Let us be honest. We care enough about our kids to take the politically expedient step of making it look like we are truly protecting their health by banning e-cigarettes, but we don't care about our kids so much that we want to actually protect them by removing from the market a product that we know is going to kill half of those kids who become addicted to it.’”
Seigel then goes on to accuse the San Francisco Board of Supervisors of attempting to score an “easy political victory” at the expense of the vaping community, overall public health, and a fledgling vaping industry lacking the political clout and necessary experience to successfully fight a proposed ban. If city officials were truly concerned about the public health of teenagers, then the logical first step would be to ban all conventional tobacco products rather than the enormously less harmful vapor products. Unfortunately, Herrera can’t do this because Big Tobacco is just too “powerful,” so he’s going after vaping instead.
“This is an easy political victory because they know the vaping industry is not organized or centralized enough to fight it successfully. But if they are justified in banning e-cigarettes, then it is certainly imperative upon them - and actually much more justified - to ban real cigarettes. However, the tobacco industry is organized, centralized, and powerful.”
Seigel’s views on the matter were also mimicked by a blistering article appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle on March 21, less than two days after the Herrera announcement. The Chronicle’s editorial board states clearly their belief that the legislative proposal to ban e-cigarettes is nothing more than “purely political grandstanding.”
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