Connoisseurs of tobacco and contemporary e-cigarette products will be disappointed after hearing that San Francisco is set to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products. The city has taken sweeping actions to ban outright the sale of such products as menthol cigarettes and flavored vaping cartridges. The new regulatory sweep was initiated after San Francisco voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of a proposition to enforce the anti-tobacco rules.
Voters hit the polling booth to vote for and against Proposition E, a measure aimed at stringently reducing the sale of these tobacco products throughout the city. The local ballot measure passed with an overwhelming 68 percent voting in favor of it, with some 31 percent of San Franciscans opposed.
Matthew Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an advocacy organization pushing for more stringent tobacco regulations around the country, argued that the vote would likely help encourage other cities to take similar actions in the near future.
“I think it almost certainly will serve as a catalyst for other cities around the country to take on the issue of flavored tobacco products, including menthol,” Myers told CNBC ahead of the vote. “It not only sets a precedent, but it also provides a guideline for an action that probably could have a greater effect on African-American tobacco use than any other single action.”
The intense debate over Proposition E was one of the fiercest issues of the political season, with millions being raised by proponents and enemies of the tobacco ban alike. Fans of Proposition E included political heavy hitters like former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, who contributed roughly $3 million to the effort to ban the tobacco products. On the other side of the issue, tobacco proponents lobbied hard against Proposition E, with one tobacco company contributing almost $12 million to efforts to thwart Proposition E.
The City of San Francisco’s Ethics Commission has publicized more spending details surrounding Proposition E, illuminating just how serious political actors on both sides of the aisle are about the tobacco issue. Tobacco products have steadily faced more regulation throughout history, particularly as health concerns stemming from their frequent usage became more widely known about. According to the CDC, tobacco usage remains the single largest preventable cause of death in the United States, with cigarettes killing nearly 500,000 Americans every year.