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San Francisco Nanny-Staters Ban Sale of Flavored Vapor Products

Earlier this week, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to ban the sale of flavored nicotine liquid, known as "e-juice," along with flavored tobacco products, claiming the flavors lure young children into a lifetime of addiction.

"We're focusing on flavored products because they are widely considered to be a starter product for future smokers," said Supervisor Malia Cohen, who sponsored the bill.

It may be "widely considered" by the uninformed, but there is no evidence to support such a claim.

A few things for those who are unfamiliar with how nicotine delivery systems (e-cigs) work. There is nothing combustible in an electronic cigarette. The devices heat a liquid which produces vapor inhaled by the user. "Future smokers" assumes there is fire or smoking involved and there is not. There is also no evidence that people who use electronic cigarettes "graduate" to smoking tobacco. On the other hand, there is evidence people who want to quit smoking do so with the help of electronic cigarettes.  That evidence was ignored by the supervisors.

Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, a nonprofit organization that advocates for vaping products, said the ordinance is "complete nonsense" and ignores the benefits of flavored vaping products.

"There is a great deal of evidence that flavors are critical to helping adults quit smoking by helping them disconnect from the taste of tobacco," said Conley, who quit smoking in 2010 with the help of watermelon flavored "e-liquid," the liquid used in electronic cigarettes.

Conley pointed to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last week that found the number of high school and middle school students using e-cigarettes fell to 2.2 million last year, from 3 million the year before. The CDC also estimates that the number of middle and high school students using tobacco products fell to 3.9 million last year, from 4.7 million the year before.

"Unfortunately, San Francisco supervisors ignored that data and the stories about how vaping was the only thing that helped many smokers quit," he said.

The measure will face another vote next week and is expected to pass.

Cohen, who further revealed herself to be ignorant of how e-cigs work, said: "For too many years, the tobacco industry has selectively targeted our young adults with products that are deceptively associated with fruits and mint and candy."

"Menthol cools the throat so you don't feel the smoke and the irritants and it masks the flavors. This legislation is about saying enough is enough," she added.

Menthol cigarettes have been around for decades, so why the sudden interest in their harm now?

The vaping industry is not the tobacco industry and there is no tobacco involved in e-cigs. The vaping industry is comprised of large companies but also a substantial number of small businesses that will be wiped out locally by the ban. Customers will simply go outside the city to by their juice or order it online.