San Francisco officials are proposing changes that could ban vape sales in the city and jeopardize the headquarters of leading e-cigarette company Juul Labs.
“I would like for [Juul] to have been gone yesterday,” Supervisor Shamann Walton told reporters Tuesday.
He and City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced a four-pronged initiative that includes legislation which, if passed, could ban the sale of e-cigarettes that haven’t undergone premarket review by the US Food and Drug Administration, according to a statement Tuesday. This would include sales in brick-and-mortar stores, as well as online sales shipped to a San Francisco address.
City officials cited vapes’ popularity among youth as a key reason for introducing these measures.
The city criticized the FDA in a letter – alongside officials from New York and Chicago – and said it allowed these products to temporarily remain on shelves without undergoing premarket review for their impact on public health. The San Francisco ban would not apply to e-cigarette products that have undergone this review – but so far, none have.
Walton is introducing legislation that “would prohibit the sale, manufacture and distribution of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, on City property,” according to the statement.
In tandem, Herrera is requesting information on why Juul’s headquarters at San Francisco’s Pier 70 has a license to distribute tobacco products even though the company maintains it doesn’t sell such products on premises.
If the company is found to be in violation of their lease or any laws, that could result in legal action – including getting kicked out of the building.
“It seems somewhat curious to me that they have a distributor’s license when they say they are not doing any distributing, manufacturing or sale on property,” Herrera told reporters.
“At this point we don’t have any evidence that they are in violation of the terms of their lease agreement,” he added. “If I find that they are in violation, then I would take action.”
In a statement, Juul Labs said that “this proposed legislation’s primary impact will be to limit adult smokers’ access to products that can help them switch away from combustible cigarettes.”
“We encourage the City of San Francisco to severely restrict youth access but do so in a way that preserves the opportunity to eliminate combustible cigarettes,” the company continued, maintaining that it has taken action to limit kids from using their products.
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Last week, the FDA proposed moving up its deadline for e-cigarette companies to submit applications for premarket review to August 8, 2021 – and not the following year, as is the current case.
The agency released a policy draft that, if finalized, would take action against stores selling flavored e-cig products that are accessible to minors and against websites selling them without verifying buyers’ ages and limiting the maximum quantities they sell.
The FDA announced in November that vaping had increased nearly 80% among high schoolers and 50% among middle schoolers since the year before.
CNN’s Roni Selig and Kevin Flower contributed to this report.