San Francisco Mulls Ban on Vaping Liquids with Flavor, Mentoles

SAN FRANCISCO – A major tobacco company is pouring millions of dollars into a campaign to convince San Francisco voters to reject the ban on selling flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, certain chewing tobacco and liquid vapors with flavors like cotton candy, mango and fresh cucumber.

RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. has contributed nearly $ 12 million to the "No to Proposition E" campaign, filling radios and radio and television mailboxes with ads urging voters to reject a law pbaded last year by the law supervisors that is on the June 5 ballot.

In comparison, the supporters of the caucus have raised $ 2.8 million, including more than $ 2 million from the billionaire former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg.

Supporters say a ban would help prevent another generation from getting nicotine, but critics say California already Last year, San Francisco supervisors unanimously approved the ban on flavored tobacco sales, saying that the nicotine masked in flavors such as mango, caramel and mint serve as first quality products. tempting children to become smokers. According to the ordinance, smoke juices that taste like tobacco will still be allowed.

The ordinance was established to take effect in April, but was suspended after R.J. Reynolds collected enough signatures to put him on the ballot.

Other cities have pbaded laws that reduce access to flavored tobacco and flavored vapor liquids, but San Francisco was the first in the United States to pbad a total sales ban. He was also one of the first to ban indoor smoking in workplaces, bars and restaurants.

Big Tobacco's spending shows that the industry fears a flavored nicotine ban in San Francisco could become a national trend, said Matthew Myers of the Tobacco-Free Kids Campaign, which supports the ban.

The manufacturer of Newport, the best-selling menthol brand in the country, also sells electronic cigarettes. Health experts say that the mint in cigarettes helps cover the throat and relieves the harshness of tobacco smoke, facilitating addiction.

R.J. Reynolds did not respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press, and the "Not on Proposition E" campaign also declined to comment. His ads, which are published in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese, say that San Francisco's ban on flavored tobacco is similar to the ban and would lead to a black market for vape products.

Small business owners also oppose the ban, which they say will hurt businesses because people can still buy products with "e-liquid" flavors and tobacco in neighboring cities or online. Companies that violate the law could suspend their permits to sell tobacco.

Miriam Zouzounis, board member of the Association of Arab American Merchants, which represents 400 small business owners in the San Francisco Bay Area, said the ban would eliminate an anchor product that attracts customers, many of whom which are owned by immigrants.

"If we do not have our client's green chewing tobacco, he will not come and buy the food or drink or other products that keep our doors open," Zouzounis said.

Dr. Pamela Ling, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who studies how tobacco is marketed among young people, said that although smoking has declined among teenagers, the use of e-cigarette is increasing, in part because of the aromatized and novel nicotine products. vaping devices, including one manufactured by JUUL, based in San Francisco, which looks like a USB stick.

"Many children do not necessarily smoke a cigarette, but if you give them a little JUUL or a vape and tell them it tastes like cookies and cream or creme brulee, they will try it out of curiosity," said Ling.

JUUL did not respond to a request for comment from the AP.

Ling said there are thousands of nicotine liquid flavors that are attractive to children and teens who often do not know they are inhaling the stimulant, which is considered harmful to the developing adolescent brain.

"You can buy the flavored tobacco product at any store on the corner, and it's so easy and so accessible," said Ling. "At least prohibiting products that are more attractive to children would give parents a fighting chance."

Zouzounis, whose family has owned a small store in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood for three generations, said the vaping and Hookah stores will. They have to close their doors if the prohibition is maintained.

San Francisco politicians "are talking about having safe injection sites for drug users, legalizing marijuana, but they want to get a highly regulated product out of the market." she said, noting the age limit for tobacco buyers, plus the license and fees required to sell tobacco. "It just does not make sense."


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