SAN FRANCISCO (AP/KRON) – San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes after supervisors gave the measure its second and final vote Tuesday.
Backers say they hope the legislation will curb underage use of e-cigarettes, but critics say the ban will make it harder for adults to purchase an alternative to regular cigarettes.
The owner of Sam’s Smoke Shop in San Francisco isn’t thrilled with the board’s decision.
Jouni Abuzaghbire says the sale of e-cigarettes make up 50 percent of his revenue, but the vote is threatening that security.
Supervisor Shamann Walton co-wrote the legislation to ban the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes in the city.
Walton says it’s a win for the city’s youth and he’s planning to put together a working group to help affected business owners
“This forces us to work together and to come up with some of the solutions that will help our businesses be successful here. So im excited and happy to do that, but I will never put profits ahead of our young people,” the supervisor said.
Jouni isn’t buying it.
“They want us out of business,” he said.
He says he never sells to anyone under 21 and feels Tuesday’s vote is just another step the city is taking to force them to close up shop.
“Every year we get hit with a new law and this is their plan,” Jouni said. “I’ve been in business in San Francisco over 10 years and I don’t see any help from them except headache.”
San Francisco is a city that celebrates its marijuana culture, but it appears deeply opposed to other vices. Last year, voters approved a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco and in 2016, a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.
E-cigarette maker Juul Labs, which is based in San Francisco, says it is opposed to youth vaping.
The company is working on a ballot initiative that would regulate but not ban e-cigarette sales.