San Francisco becomes first major US city to ban e-cigarette

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San Francisco: San Francisco became the first major city in the United States to effectively ban the sale and manufacture of electronic cigarettes.

The ordinance prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes in the city until marketing for the devices are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the measure in a final vote on Tuesday. The ban will go into effect 30 days after the mayor signs the ordinance.

The measure specifically singled out the use of electronic cigarettes for presenting “significant public health consequence” to minors. Backers said the ban was necessary due to the “significant public health consequences” of a “dramatic surge” in e-cigarette use among teenagers.

US health authorities are alarmed by the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes, battery-powered devices that enable users to inhale addictive nicotine liquids that are often fruit flavoured.

The potential health consequences of vaping, including fears it could stunt adolescent development, remain largely unknown, in part because the practice is so new.

Anti-vaping activists say firms deliberately target young people by offering flavoured products. Critics say that not only is a more scientific investigation into the health impact needed, but vaping can also encourage young people to switch to cigarettes.

Earlier this year the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the national regulator, issued proposed guidelines giving companies until 2021 to apply to have their e-cigarette products evaluated.

A deadline had initially been set for August 2018, but the agency later said that more preparation time was needed.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of US teenagers who admitted using nicotine products rose about 36% last year, something it attributed to a growth in e-cigarette use.

The number of young Americans using e-cigarettes grew by 1.5 million in 2018, with about 3.6 million middle and high school students using vaping products.

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