ABOUT
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
QUESTION:
What is this all about?
ANSWER:
In June, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that would ban the sale of vapor products in San Francisco both in retail stores and online. The ordinance is meant to curb youth usage of vapor products, but it doesn’t account for how ineffective prohibition of products has been historically, what effect an outright ban would have on San Francisco businesses or how the thousands of people using vapor products for harm reduction will be left with only traditional cigarettes available to them. The ban is ultimately a gift to cigarette companies that will now have little competition in stores around San Francisco.
QUESTION:
What does the ban mean for people that vape?
ANSWER:
The ban keeps all people, including those over 21, from purchasing vaping products in retail stores or online in San Francisco. That means that either people will travel to other cities to purchase these products, or they will turn to the only alternative available to them – traditional cigarettes. Because it is already illegal for people under 21 to purchase vapor products in San Francisco, this ban hurts those who are purchasing and selling the products legally, while not addressing the true root of the problem.
QUESTION:
Is vaping less harmful than smoking cigarettes?
ANSWER:
Vapor products are not risk-free, but research has shown them to be less harmful for adult smokers than smoking combustible cigarettes. 

In 2018, Public Health England began a promoting vaping as “95% less harmful than tobacco.” Additionally, the New Zealand Ministry of Health has incorporated vaping products into its plan for Smoke Free 2025 arguing that “smokers switching to vaping products are highly likely to reduce the risks to their health and those around them.” 

In January, the New England Journal of Medicine released a yearlong study showing that smokers who switched to e-cigarettes abstained from using traditional cigarettes at nearly twice the rate compared to smokers who used nicotine replacement products, such as patches and gum.
QUESTION:
What do public health experts say about the ban?
ANSWER:
There has been an outcry from public health experts since San Francisco passed the ban on the sale of vaping products.

Kenneth Warner, a professor emeritus at the University of Michigan School of Public Health said, “If the board of supervisors were interested in public health, they would prohibit the sale of cigarettes in San Francisco. That's a far higher priority than banning vaping from a public health point of view. There really is an irony that now you can buy your marijuana and your cigarettes, but you won't be able to get vaping products, which are certainly far less dangerous than cigarette smoking. It's ludicrous."

Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University School of Public Health whose research focuses on tobacco reduction, called the ban an "insane public policy" and said, "It makes it easier to get cigarettes than e-cigarettes. I fear it really sends a bad message to other cities and to youth. It basically says we think vaping is worse than smoking…the worst part of this, beyond the fact that it makes no sense from a public health perspective, is I think it's actually going to do public health harm. By taking e-cigarettes off the shelves, you're basically going to force a lot of ex-smokers to go back to smoking."

Read more public health expert reactions here

QUESTION:
What is the goal of Prop C?
ANSWER:
Prop C would enact new, stronger and comprehensive regulations for the sale of vaping products in San Francisco on top of existing law to better keep these products away from kids. It will supersede the ban enacted in June.
QUESTION:
How can we protect our kids from nicotine addiction?
ANSWER:
Our goal is to be proactive and address the true problem. Proposition C is a new initiative to better regulate, rather than ban, vapor products in San Francisco. To protect our kids, Prop C will:

- Require retailers to use electronic scanning technology to automatically verify the purchaser’s age and ID validity and reduce human error
- Require retailers to limit the amount of product that can be purchased to reduce the potential for sharing and reselling
- Require online retailers that sell vapor products to SF residents to obtain a permit and be regulated by the city
- Require online retailers to use third-party age verification to ensure the purchaser is at least 21 years of age and limit the amount of product that can be purchased to reduce the potential for social sourcing and reselling
- Prohibit the marketing of vapor products to minors, and impose the same advertising restrictions on vapor products as are on traditional cigarettes 

QUESTION:
Does it reverse the flavor ban passed in 2016?
ANSWER:
Prop C would not affect or weaken existing law, such as the local ban on flavored tobacco products at retail, nor would it prevent additional regulations in the future. Read our letter to the City Attorney’s office on this issue here.
QUESTION:
When would Prop C be voted on?
ANSWER:
Election day is November 5th, so make sure you are aware of the registration deadlines for voting either by mail or in person, available here
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