San Francisco officials approved a ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes Tuesday, making it the first major U.S. city to pass such a restriction.
Supporters say the measure will help curb underage vaping, but opponents who argue it takes away an adult alternative to regular cigarettes are preparing to put the issue on the ballot.
The ordinance will prevent residents from buying e-cigarettes in San Francisco stores or receiving online orders to addresses in the city until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviews the products.
More than 3.6 million middle and high school students nationally used e-cigarettes in the past month in 2018, according to the FDA, despite the federal government banning sales to those under 18.
While the Board of Supervisors gave its final vote of approval Tuesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported it will be effective seven months after the mayor signs it.
San Francisco-based e-cigarette company Juul Labs, one of the measure's most vocal opponents since it was introduced in March, has contributed $50,000 to an effort to put a vaping initiative on the November ballot. The initiative would regulate but not ban e-cigarette sales.
Juul Labs spokesperson Ted Kwong said the company has taken steps to deter youth from purchasing its products, including improving its online age verification process and stopping the retail store sale of non-tobacco and non-menthol based flavored products. The company said it will continue to push for enforcement in the wake of the measure.
"This full prohibition will drive former adult smokers who successfully switched to vapor products back to deadly cigarettes, deny the opportunity to switch for current adult smokers, and create a thriving black market instead of addressing the actual causes of underage access and use," Kwong said in a statement.
Doctors have warned that vaping can lead to smoking cigarettes and cite health risks to developing brains. Vaping product manufacturers have until 2021 to submit e-cigarettes for safety and health review for FDA approval.
The United States Public Interest Research Group commended the San Francisco measure in a statement.
“San Francisco’s lawmakers have done what the FDA should have done years ago: ensure that e-cigarettes undergo the appropriate health review before hitting the shelves," campaign director Matt Wellington said. "With the rampant rise in e-cig use among our kids, it’s clear the agency made a bad call by letting e-cigarettes remain on the market. "
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: San Francisco passes e-cigarette ban, a first for a major US city