By now, the whole nation has heard of the flavor ban imposed on all flavored tobacco products sold in San Francisco.
In perhaps the most shocking piece of local legislation in the vaping industry to date, San Franciscans approved a sweeping flavor ban regulation with 68% approving the ban. The ban prohibits the sale of any flavored tobacco products in the city, which means products like menthol cigarette and non-tobacco flavored vape juice will no longer be available to consumers in local shops.
The ban was approved in 2017 by city supervisors, but outside groups, including R.J. Reynolds, collected enough signatures to put the flavor ban -- known as Proposition E -- on the ballot for voters to approve or deny. In the end, the voters approved the ban. Other cities in the area approved similar bans in the wake of San Francisco last year, including Oakland, but this was the first time it was brought to the voters.
Outside interests and money played a large role in the vote. R.J. Reynolds contributed nearly $12 million, much in the form of advertising, to fight the measure. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg contributed more than $3 million in support of the ban.
"Big tobacco sees vaping as their future," Patrick Reynolds, an anti-tobacco advocate and executive director of Foundation for Smokefree America said. "They are very afraid this is going to pass and if the voters make an informed decision to side with the health community, it will lead to hopefully a tidal wave of cities doing what SF did because the FDA did nothing. We will start to turn the tide against vaping."
Reynolds’ grandfather, R.J. Reynolds, started the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company way back in 1875. Patrick, his grandson, founded the smoke-free initiative in 1989 and has been working non-stop against all forms of smoking and vaping.
Greg Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, offered his take on Proposition E by stating, “It is a travesty that anti-vaping extremists would mislead SF voters into making it harder for adult smokers to quit.”
The ban supporters leaned heavily on the idea that vape flavors and marketing materials used by the vape industry (including labels and boxes) are promoting their products to children. Using photos of brands that featured bright colors and designs on their labels and boxes that sometimes contained images of sweets, fruit and childlike fonts, supporters were able to convince voters that an overarching ban of all flavored tobacco products was needed.
On the other side, the anti-ban supporters, led in large part by R.J. Reynolds, used a “scorched earth” approach, focusing on the perceived similarities between the flavor ban and the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920’s. Critics felt that the campaign should’ve taken a more positive approach, focusing instead on telling the stories of people who’ve embraced vaping as an alternative to smoking.
San Francisco city officials and voters have now set a precedent that could be used by other cities or states across the country. The State of New York is currently considering a similar ban that has been approved for consideration in the next couple weeks by the full legislature.
As vapers, this should be a clear indication that we have a long way to go and much more pro-vaping advocacy should be taking place. Consumers should check out groups like CASAA; SFATA is a great resource is a great resource for business owners. The American Vaping Association is one another great organization that promotes vaping and e-cigarette products and keeps consumers aware of legal news, consumer product safety, and other essential industry information.
Posted by Crystal Means on Jun 19th 2018