San Francisco bans e-liquid flavors

City leaders decide serving tobacco control matters more than helping smokers


San Francisco, a city that used to be a bastion of personal freedom, has banned flavored e-liquid, which almost certainly will doom many smokers to early deaths. It is very unlikely that vape shops in the city will survive the ban, which takes effect next April.

The city’s Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance prohibiting sales of all flavored “tobacco products” Tuesday, almost immediately after the law was recommended by the public safety committee. The new law also bans flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes.

The law was opposed by the vaping community, and also by owners of convenience stores in the city, and was pushed by the state’s powerful tobacco control industry, which is centered in the Bay Area. University of California-San Francisco professor and anti-nicotine zealot Stanton Glantz, was standing next to supervisor Malia Cohen as she announced the ban in April.

“San Francisco has done a shameful thing,” wrote CASAA CEO Alex Clark. “Rather than consider innovative new ways to address the disease and early death attributed to smoking, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors has, instead, opted to experiment on their constituents with an untested policy.”

Indeed, there is no evidence in the world showing that restricting the availability of vapor products (or low-risk tobacco products like snus) in any way benefits public health. “This was purely an emotional decision,” Clark wrote.

The ban is one in a series of similar laws recently proposed in the San Francisco Bay Area. And it almost certainly won’t stop there. Vapers should expect the idea of “saving youth from a lifetime of nicotine addiction” by banning sales of e-cigarettes with supposedly teen-oriented flavors to pick up steam and spread around the country.

Their nicotine abstinence policy should be no more acceptable to San Francisco residents than a policy banning condom sales to prevent the spread of AIDS.

“We are not looking to put small stores out of business,” supervisor Malia Cohen said at the board hearing. “We want to help them make this transition from selling a poisonous commodity to selling something that will benefit the neighborhood.”

But banning vapor products doesn’t benefit the city — unless protecting cigarette sales from competition is what the supervisors want. They have foolishly bought into the narrative of nicotine prohibitionists like Glantz, and the result will be more misery caused by smoking, not less. Their nicotine abstinence policy should be no more acceptable to San Francisco residents than a policy banning condom sales to prevent the spread of AIDS.

With less than a year before the ban is put into place, vapers should take action now. Use the CASAA link to send a pre-written letter to the supervisors, or personalize the letter. It just takes seconds, and we can help San Francisco vapers keep the products that are improving and saving their lives.

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.
  • Jennebell

    As someone who has sucessfully quit smoking (cigarette free for
    4 years, nicotine free for 6 months) by switching to vape and slowly lowering the level of nicotine from 12mg to 0mg with the use of berry/fruit flavors.. I can say with certainty that this ban will not save lives or protect citizens. It has been proven with mulitiple studies that vaping is way less harmful than cigarettes to the user and to those around them. The use of flavors in vaping is a HUGE factor in a successful switch from smoking. Banning flavors basically limits a person to vaping something that doesn’t really taste like a cigarette, but is instead a sad imitation, which leads to craving the “real thing” regardless of the health issues. Flavors, on the other hand, taste good, which helps a person to realize that smoking DOES NOT taste good, and is actually quite disgusting.

    I am very disappointed in the city of San Francisco for encouraging smokers to stay addicted to horrible chemicals which have been proven to kill.

  • Ryan Swan

    So… cigarettes are tobacco flavored… They should ban cigarettes too then. If not then tobacco flavored liquid should be exempt.

    • mikerb

      Guess what, tobacco flavoured eliquid is allowed.

  • Ohto Kangas

    This is what happens when Liberals are very liberal. Which in Commiefornia they haven’t been in decades.

    • Trixxi X

      You are stupid

  • Just stupid… Will not visit SF again. A Board which seams to be not able to use there brains should not be supported anymore. SF Board, i will show you one of my fingers… Guess which!

    • Jim McDonald

      Be sure to tell them! Use the CASAA link in the story and send an instant email to all of the supervisors in about ten seconds.

      • Have done this and also pointed out the results from Public Health UK and the royal college of physicians to support vaping.

        By the way the CASAA Form is not very useful for People outside the US=paying tourists.

  • Nikolette Adams

    The thing that makes me angry about this kind of policy and the new federal laws, is that Big Tobacco are behind them. The tobacco lobby is huge, most brick and mortar vape shops have next to no voice. The tobacco manufacturers have seen dips in profits because many smokers have stopped buying the poisons they sell.

    The use of the phrase “tobacco products” as it relates to vaping is an outright falsehood. Vape liquids DO NOT CONTAIN TOBACCO. They are not tobacco products in any way, shape or form.

    I see SF’s ban also includes flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes. I see protests in their future and not all of them involving capers.

    As for the brainiac who said that this type of ban is due to liberals … just a reality check: liberals believe in *more* rights, not less. Perhaps you should consider banning kool-aid.

    • MacD

      sorry, but no. libs believe in telling you what you can and cannot do, because they think they know better, what is good for you. They want less rights. One big push the libs have been trying to get is to make it illegal to say anything bad against islam. That was one of the things Obama was going to push, made speeches about how there should be changes to the 1st amendment concerning Islam, just like Lincoln made changes to the constitution when he freed the slaves. Conservatives believe in putting the government back in the hands of the people, preserving our rights. Just look at the lib protesters. They want to scream and yell about free speech, yet if you want to state your opinion, which is opposite of theirs, they will physically attack you to shut you up.

      • Wael Mardas

        Your the Man 👍
        Very well said

      • Jim McDonald

        The anti-free speech movement on campuses is a serious problem. Restricting speech threatens everyone’s freedom. However, Obama has specifically spoken AGAINST that. He has never called for “changes to the First Amendment.” I’m not a big fan of Obama, but sorry, you’re just making stuff up there.

        • MacD

          Yes, he and Michelle gave a speech before his second nomination. At which time they both said that changes were needed because Muslims were being upset over things non-muslims were saying. That people should not talk bad about them and that changes would need to be made along the same lines of the changes that Lincoln made to free the slaves. This is exactly what they said. What do you think that means? What changes did Lincoln make? He changed the Constitution to free the slaves.

          • Jim McDonald

            Lincoln freed the slaves by proclamation. The Constitution was later amended — by the usual method, ratified by the state legislatures — to give the former slaves full citizenship

            Please offer a link to this speech, a transcript, or any evidence at all that it happened. It didn’t happen. This is made up. The fact that people would believe such junk says terrible things about this country.

          • MacD

            Yes, the constitution was amended. Just another way of saying what I said. I no longer have the audio from a year before Obama’s 2nd term, and I don’t give a rat’s ass to prove to you what i heard. Dont really care if you believe me or not. But, i know i heard it, and thats all i care about.

          • Jim McDonald

            That’s what I figured, no proof. Don’t you think if something that groundbreaking had happened, that we’d all be aware of it? I’m not a big Obama booster, but this stuff is just silly.

  • San Fran has always been known to take a fascist stance to ANYTHING that seems foreign to them. Re-open Alcatraz and bury these political degenerates in those old rotted cells. Once the building collapses on em, put their remains in another jail and let that one rot on top of them as well. Repeat these steps so their heartless fucking souls never re-incarnate.

  • Phil Dean

    Sell 0 nic juice and nicotine… problem solved. Think about all the poor menthol

    • Fishlips

      According to the FDA, 0 mg juice is still a tobacco product

      • Ryan Swan

        You can still buy flavoring, liquid nicotine, and PG/VG all separate right? That’s what they are doing over in Europe.

        • fishking

          some states you can, some states companies wont ship to, like Utah

          • Jennebell

            See that seems really stupid, when (as i said before), all of those things are also used for other making more than vape products. All accept nicotine anyway. So the homemade soap crafters in those states can’t make soap now?

          • Jennebell

            Or did you mean they won’t ship the nicotine?

          • Jim McDonald

            San Francisco is banning flavored commercial e-liquid, nothing else.

            The federal deeming regulations — and entirely separate issue — will require marketing orders from the FDA for any liquid products being sold for the purpose of vaping. The FDA is not restricting the sale of PG, VG, or flavorings sold for other purposes.

          • Jennebell

            That comment wasn’t regarding San Francisco’s ban. It was in response to fishking’s comment about some states not allowing shipments of products. His comment specifically mentioned Utah.

      • Jennebell

        Until flavoring is added “0 mg vape juice” is nothing more than pure vegetable glycerine, or a mix of vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol… Both of these products are available through many vendors online (such as Amazon) and are used to make way more things than vapor liquid (soaps, lotions, lip gloss, etc). The flavorings are also sold for more than vape products… such as candy and dessert making. It is very easy to make 0mg vape liquids at home (and way more cost effective – I spend less than $50 per year on making my own liquids). Hell, if they sell “unflavored” liquids containing nicotine at the stores in San Francisco, vape users could still buy flavorings online or at craft stores and add them on their own. However, they shouldn’t have to..

        • fishking

          as long as its not labeled as eliquid, otherwise even without nicotine or flavoring its a tobacco product, would be silly to buy a pre mix pg vg, might as well just do the whole diy thing yourself. Ive been making my own for 6 years, those who still buy should look into DIY, ity is the future

  • David Douglas

    I can’t believe what I have just read!!! They are going arse forward. They should be promoting vaping as a substitute to smoking cancer sticks with every thing they have. Then put a total ban on all tabaco products.

  • MacD

    No state or local laws or constitutions shall supersede the federal laws and constitution. They cannot make a law that is legal at the state and or federal level. If they do, they are in violation of your rights, and the federal law that allows the sale of these products. this can be fought, and won.

  • Kenny Johnson

    You can still vape though. That’s the same principal as removing the sales of fossil fuel byproducts and automobiles! Car crashes kill way more people way more prematurely!

  • According to Section 4H.2 that defines a tobacco product this law doesn’t apply to most vaping liquids:

    “”Tobacco Products” means tobacco and any substance containing tobacco leaf, including but not limited to cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco, or any other preparation of tobacco, including the cigarettes commonly known as bidis.

    There’s no tobacco leaf included in e-liquids except possibly those made from NET which usually aren’t flavored. There’s nicotine, but that can be found naturally in foods we eat every day. Not just tobacco.

    I think I’m going to need to point this out to people here.

    • Jim McDonald

      California amended their definitions last year to include vape as a tobacco product. However they define the inclusion of leaf, they do consider nicotine-containing e-liquid a tobacco product.

      • I looked it up and majority of nicotine is produced via extraction from tobacco leaves. There are companies now synthesizing nicotine from scratch or extracting it from tomatoes so that point will be a bit moot soon. UCSF here has a smoking cessation program using vaporizers. They might find a way around it since they’re a medical school at least.

        The silliest part is that you can easily leave SF to buy menthol cigarettes or juice or you can just buy them online. It’s not going to stop people only the businesses that sell them here.

        • Jim McDonald

          Yeah, there’s one company making synthetic nic (very expensive), and no one makes it from tomatoes. Also, UCSF is the home of the worst anti-vaping tobacco control program in the country. It’s where Stanton Glantz works.

          • And yet they’re running a smoking cessation program using vaporizers. Doesn’t sound very anti-vaping to me. Forgot to add that I saw a couple of article on synthetic nicotine and yes it is more expensive, but the company working on it also working on extraction from tomatoes. I guess that will take awhile since there’s a lot less nicotine in tomatoes than tobacco.

          • Jim McDonald

            Yes. It would take a semi load of tomatoes to make a liter of high-strength nicotine. Commercially impossible, unless someone genetically modifies them.

            And UCSF is the epicenter of anti-nicotine activism in the United States. If this is new to you, I suggest a little study. It’s interesting.

  • Personally, I’ve always bought my juice online. The vape shops in SF tend to overcharge for it. There’s only one juice I like that I can’t get online, but it’s tobacco juice with no menthol or other flavorings so that should be safe unless the only seller here in SF goes out of business.

    • Jim McDonald

      The law outlaws all characterizing flavors. Tobacco is a flavor.

      • If that were true [and it’s not] regular cigarettes would be outlawed as well. I’ve read the law the “Characterizing flavor” is an additive to tobacco. It also doesn’t officially mention vaping liquid. You have to refer to section 14H.2 for a definition of “tobacco product” which also doesn’t fit with vaping liquid until you find the wording that, “Since nicotine is extracted from tobacco leaves that qualifies it as a tobacco product.” It’s pretty badly worded.

        • Jim McDonald

          Here’s a link to the ordinance. Read it yourself.

          “The ordinance defines a flavored tobacco product as a tobacco product that contains a constituent that imparts a characterizing flavor.”

          • Read it again, “other than the taste or aroma of tobacco”. From Sec. 19Q.2.

          • Jim McDonald

            Are you quoting from the San Francisco ordinance? Because that’s what we’re talking about.

          • Yep. I have a print out right next to me I’ve been studying. Technically their definition of a tobacco product needs work if extracted nicotine qualifies. You can extract water from vodka, but that doesn’t make it alcohol.

          • Jim McDonald

            Nicotine extracted from tobacco is exactly the definition Congress passed in the Tobacco Control Act, which was applied to vapor by the FDA in the deeming regs.

            Can you link to the SF ordinance that shows something different than their own documents offered during these hearings. I’m talking about the flavors specifically? This law is unique to the city; it isn’t based on state law.

          • I’ll see if I can find the link after dinner. I printed it out for reference on a story I’m working on for my San Francisco blog.

  • Steven Bearden

    It should be mentioned that the ordinance did not target eliquids so much as they were caught up in it. The ordinance was specifically directed at and originated in an effort to ban flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes. These were the targeted objects. This article makes it sound like the reverse. As if those were the side objects and vaping was the intended target. I can guarantee that the amount of menthol smokers in SF absolutely dwarfs the amount of vapers. While the situation still sucks, it does no good to distort actual events towards a given bias. Luckily for bay area residents, mass transit is quick, convenient and oakland and other cities and their vape shops are a quick BART ride away.

    • Jim McDonald

      Menthol was the primary target, but e-liquid was not at all accidental. California tobacco control is quite deliberately going after vape — and they have for a long time. As for distortion, this is a publication for vapers, and I’m trying to inform them about a law that affects them. I’m not trying to make it disproportionately about vaping, but neither is it my job to defend the sale of cigarettes (though I don’t believe they should be prohibited).

      Oakland’s flavor ban is coming soon.

  • Asylumsix

    Pretty damn sure most people that don’t understand vaping think it’s the nicotine that gives the tobacco flavor..

    Quality unflavored vape juice tastes a little bit sweet.. Either way baking shops are going to start selling out of lorann etc…

  • j jarry

    Hope all states fellow suite be better for everyone. Vaping was to stop smoking not to have fun blowing big flavored vapor clouds. You can’t have fun with it anymore end of story.

    • Jim McDonald

      Don’t worry, no one will be having fun when all the vape shops close. Flavored e-liquid *is* the vaping business. End of story.

    • yrsa

      I hope they take away wine coolers and flavored vodka while they’re at it. And flavored coffee too, make no mistake caffeine isn’t that great for you either and watching coworkers huddle in the break room to get their caffeine fix is not unlike going to a methadone clinic. The only drug you need is hard work and Jesus.

  • Rook

    it will be very difficult to stop home made products, home made juice and home made mods should it come to that
    I’m in australia and it is convenient to make own juice from VG Flav concentrate and nic… can even get a herb extractor machine and do own concentrates…
    its turning into a long drawn out war

    • Jim McDonald

      San Francisco residents can also buy online, or go to a nearby municipality to find e-liquid. But this still removes choices, and will kill the vape shops in the city.

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