Bay Area Cities Want to Ban E-Liquid Flavors

Will vapers get involved to stop an assault on our right to not smoke?


The San Francisco Bay Area is fighting a wave of attempted flavor bans, and area vapers need to get involved before it’s too late. The coordinated attack on flavored vapes follows the passage of a law last year that defined e-cigarettes and nicotine-containing e-liquid as “tobacco products.”

The largest state in the nation is also the one most infected by prohibitionist tobacco control ideology. And the Bay Area is the hub of the anti-nicotine zealotry. It’s home to The University of California-San Francisco’s Stanton Glantz and Stanford’s Robert Jackler, among many others.

The forces of quit-or-die are pushing laws in cities and counties around San Francisco Bay that will make sales of flavored e-liquid illegal. The proponents of the bans have the support of all the “health” groups — like the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — that typically have the ears of local legislators. But it’s not too late to do something about it, and we have something they don’t have: thousands of passionate people whose lives have been changed by vaping products.

The folks at Not Blowing Smoke have created a website called that collects most of the information on the Bay Area threats. NBS’s Stefan Didak is a Bay Area resident, and is working hard to organize responses to the proposed laws.

Contra Costa County - June 13

The Board of Supervisors in most “rural” of the Bay Area counties (only a million residents) is meeting Tuesday, June 13, at 9:00 a.m. to consider a ban that would prohibit sales of flavored e-liquid, cigalikes or pod units. The more vapers and business owners that show up to educate the board, the better.

SFATA has published a list of the supervisors with phone numbers, and an e-mail address (clerkoftheboard @ for the board clerk, where you can send comments.

San Francisco - June 14 hearing

trekandshoot /

The largest city in the area is having a public hearing on Wednesday, June 14, at 10:30 a.m. to discuss the proposed ordinance 170441, introduced by Supervisor Malia Cohen.

The threat hasn’t gone unnoticed. A recent opinion piece by Damon L. Jacobs and Brian Fojtik challenges the city to live up to its pro-harm reduction principles for all citizens, including smokers and vapers. And an open letter to the San Francisco supervisors signed by representatives from several groups, including CASAA and the Log Cabin Republicans, makes similar points. Another op-ed by Carrie Wade has just been published in The Hill.

Please don’t wait till after flavors are banned to get angry!

Despite the support from the op-ed writers, the city’s supervisors probably won’t care unless there is a show of force at city hall Wednesday. Because there are very few vape shops in San Francisco proper, it’s crucial that consumers attend this meeting and speak.

CASAA has issued a call to action, which offers tips on planning your short remarks. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking, please attend if possible. The visual effect of a diverse group of vapers opposing the ordinance could be very important.

Even if you’re unable to attend the meeting, the call to action has a link to easily send a pre-written message (which can also be altered and personalized) to the supervisors. Please don’t wait till after flavors are banned to get angry!

Coming soon: Oakland and San Leandro


Two Bay Area cities have postponed their flavor ban hearings. The East Bay city of San Leandro sent their law back to the rules committee for further consideration, after a group of vapers, business owners, and harm reduction advocates explained why eliminating flavors is a bad idea. It will be back in September though, so vapers need to stay alert.

The first hearing of the flavor ban in Oakland was postponed, apparently after complaints from local business owners. It will be back soon, possibly as early as June 14. The city council in Oakland is apparently highly disorganized, but one imagines they’ll be capable of passing a law being pushed hard by anti-nicotine zealots and minority activists alike.

The tobacco control activists that pretend to be concerned community sympathizers, but are really part of the wealthy anti-smoking industry, have done their best to confuse flavored e-liquid with the issue on most concerned citizens minds: flavored small cigars and blunt wrappers. Employees of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) were at the first Oakland hearing, passing out signs while decrying “tobacco industry” lobbying. Of course, the only tobacco lobbying and the real opposition to the cigar rule is from local store owners.

Everything starts in California

If you don’t live in the Bay Area, this still concerns you. As we’ve seen many times before, fads of every kind — including laws! — that start in California tend to then spread around the country. If you know vapers or shop owners in California, make sure they’re aware and involved. We all need to fight these laws wherever they happen. 

Jim McDonald

I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.

  • Chad Watson

    All tobacco is flavored to a degree. It all has a curing agent, a spice or something mixed or it has been soaked in to help smooth the smoking process. If California was to ban tobacco in general; Nex to corn, fruit, soy, tobacco was one of the biggest items America produced. But the government doesn’t mention that anymore due to health risk. farmers don’t put as much effort into it because it’s cheaper overseas for BT to import. Only reason I hope this fails is I should see no reason why someone can dictate how we choose to get our nicotine. I switched to vaping 3 years ago and haven’t looked back. Don’t tell me that because I like a vanilla custard or fruity pebbble ice cream donut – that I can’t have it.

    • Jim McDonald

      There are flavorings in almost all commercial combustible tobacco. However, what the laws address (and what the 2009 Tobacco Control Act banned in cigarettes) is *characterizing* flavors. So if a flavor is obvious, and you name it (Camel Mint Chocolate, Swisher Sweet blueberry, etc.), that would be prohibited.

      As it stands, Marlboros contain cardamom, but no one thinks they’re cardamom-flavored cigarettes. It’s an interesting topic though. Of course, I agree with your points.

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