When San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed a ban on flavored e-liquid and small cigars, and menthol cigarettes, in June, they probably didn’t expect to put the law to a public referendum.
But that’s exactly what’s going to happen. After a petition drive gathered over 34,000 signatures (only 20,000 were necessary) to challenge the new law, the board was forced to choose to repeal it or send it to San Francisco citizens for a vote.
The board voted 11-0 Tuesday to include the measure on next year’s June primary election ballot. The law will now be suspended pending the result of the election next year.
The campaign that raised money to gather the signatures and fight the law is called Let’s Be Real San Francisco. It was largely financed by cigarette maker RJ Reynolds. But several vaping organizations supported the Let’s Be Real effort too, including CASAA and Not Blowing Smoke.
Local grocery and convenience stores are against the law too, because they count on cigarette and other tobacco sales. But the Board, which is heavily influenced by the prohibitionist tobacco control culture that all but runs the California public health establishment, is blaming the whole thing on the Big Tobacco company.
“A company that kills people is bankrolling a campaign they claim is about freedom of choice,” said Supervisor Malia Cohen, who introduced the ban. “Their campaign is about protecting profits.”
That’s probably true, but vapers and the small independent businesses that sell vaping products, have a lot more at stake than protecting profits. The Board of Supervisors just can’t grasp that vaping is not smoking. Or that some people make different choices than theirs.
“E-cigarette users and the entire vaping community are excited about the opportunity to make our case to the voters in San Francisco and talk about why banning flavored vape products is a terrible idea”, said Stefan Didak of Not Blowing Smoke in a Let’s Be Real press release.
“I believe that vaping is an invaluable tool in tobacco harm reduction and look forward to the opportunity to educate people on the role vaping has played in my own life and the life of many others,” he added.