San Francisco has banned the sale of e-cigarettes like Juul, with the board of supervisors voting unanimously to approve the ordinance Tuesday. It's the first city to implement such a ban.
E-cigarettes are battery operated, converting flavored liquid nicotine into a vapor inhaled by the user. Juul, headquartered in San Francisco, has been making headlines after its popularity among teenagers forced it to shutter its social media presence late last year while the FDA investigated concerns it was promoting underage use of tobacco products.
"We spent the '90s battling Big Tobacco. And now we see its new form through e-cigarettes," supervisor Shamann Walton said Tuesday, according to the San Francisco Examiner. "I am not going to put profits of Big Tobacco over the health of our children and our young people."
The ordinance was introduced in March. It prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes that require, but have not received, FDA approval for marketing.
The ban will create a "black market" for vapes, Ted Kwong, a Juul Labs spokesperson, told CNET in an emailed statement. Regulation rather than prohibition would be more effective, he said.
"This full prohibition will drive former adult smokers who successfully switched to vapor products back to deadly cigarettes," Kwong said. "In San Francisco, we are supporting efforts going forward to enact new strict regulation and enforcement."
Regulations could include mandatory electronic ID scanning to verify age, restricting bulk purchasing to prevent third-party reselling of vapes, city permits for online vape retailers and marketing restrictions, Juul suggested.
The ordinance's passage follows the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids earlier Tuesday tweeting a poster accusing Juul of "luring" children to use its products by offering flavors like mango and mint.
"Juul enticed kids with sweet flavors like mango, creme and mint, then hooked them with a strong nicotine hit," the poster says. "Last year, teen e-cigarette use spiked 78%. It's an epidemic."
Kwong said Juul has already taken "aggressive actions" to prevent underage purchasing of its products, like online age verification and its halting of sales of non-tobacco and non-menthol flavored pods across the nation last year. He also pointed to Juul.
The ordinance was also opposed by corner store owners, according to the Examiner, with the Small Business Commission arguing it'd cost $70 million in sales for the 738 businesses that sell vapes in San Francisco.
The board of supervisors didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but CNET sister site CBS News said the ordinance now awaits Mayor London Breed's signature and will take effect six months after that.
Offending retailers could be fined $1,000.
"San Francisco has never been afraid to lead," City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. "Youth vaping is an epidemic. If the federal government is not going to act to protect our kids, San Francisco will."
San Francisco in May was also the first city to, citing a breach of citizens' civil liberties.