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In June 2016, California passed a law to restrict the sales of tobacco products which included electronic cigarettes to adults of over 21 years of age. Yet officials argued that this was not enough. In their opinion, the fact that the flavoured products could still be purchased from convenience stores, allowed them to be visually accessible to young adults, hence enticing them to try the products.

Then in June 2017, the San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors decided in favour of a long disputed ban of all flavoured tobacco products, which is expected to go into effect on April 1, 2018.

A petition against the ban

Many smokers are encouraged to try safer alternatives because of the wide array of available flavours.
The following July, harm reduction advocates in San Francisco, gathered signatures for a petition asking to repeal the ban. The draft of the proposed measure, “Referenda: Repeal of Ordinance Banning the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products” was filed with the Department of Elections. “We’re trying to overturn the ban,” said Jaime Rojas, a spokesperson for a newly formed Harm Reduction campaign called ‘Let’s Be Real San Francisco’, at the time, adding, “the government has overreached on this issue.”

Last Tuesday, the city’s supervisors voted to uphold the ban, and measure will now be added to the June 5, 2018, ballot. “Certain things are in place to prevent youths from purchasing and using tobacco products,” a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds said. “We think education and those measures should be pursued before government starts considering the prohibition and ban of legal products. History has shown prohibition does not work.”

The danger of denying harm reduction tools

Public health experts have been pointing out that banning flavours will have a detrimental effect on adult smokers who are trying to quit via vaping products. Many former smokers are encouraged to try the significantly safer products, because of the wide array of available flavours.

“The state—especially the Bay Area—is leaving smokers vulnerable to tobacco-related diseases that will kill nearly 4,000 Californians this month. Lawmakers who understand the value of harm reduction need to reconsider why they are taking away products that encourage smokers to move away from cigarettes.” Carrie Wade, Harm Reduction Policy Director, R Street Institute and former drug-abuse researcher at the University of Minnesota and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla California

“The state—especially the Bay Area—is leaving smokers vulnerable to tobacco-related diseases that will kill nearly 4,000 Californians this month. Lawmakers who understand the value of harm reduction need to reconsider why they are taking away products that encourage smokers to move away from cigarettes.” said Harm Reduction Policy Director of nonprofit R Street Institute and former drug-abuse researcher at the University of Minnesota and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla California, Carrie Wade, back in June.

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  • Vinny Gracchus

    Repeal the menthol ban. Reject smoking bans.