San Francisco announces measures to decrease teen e-cigarette use

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco may return to the days of prohibition -- not the kind we saw in the 1920s and 30s with alcohol, but this time city hall is fighting to keep e-cigarettes from getting in the hands of teens.

The Health and Human Services departments found that more teens are vaping nicotine than they are smoking cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are marketed to smokers as a way to satisfy their nicotine addiction without the harm that comes from cigarettes.

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"If you are trying to be a little healthier to reduce the amount of nicotine that you're using, this is a real effective method," said Trevor Fukuda, who took up e-cigarettes four years ago.



Except that they have become wildly popular among teenagers.

"It happens in classrooms, in bathrooms, it is an epidemic," said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who's taking on the Federal Drug Administration for failing to conduct a pre-market review of these products.

Under the law, the FDA is supposed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of all products.

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"If you can't expect that the FDA is going to protect the health and safety of our young people, then I don't know what the function of the FDA really is," expressed Herrera.

Here's what Health and Human Services tell ABC7 -- tobacco use by adolescents has declined substantially in the last 40 years.

But from 2011 to 2016, the percentage of twelfth-graders who had ever used e-cigarettes increased from 4.7 to 13 percent -- reaching a spike at 16 percent in 2015.


On Tuesday, Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced legislation that would essentially ban these products in San Francisco until the FDA acts. Assuming that it passes, the ban will go into effect 30 days later. That also means that these products could not be ordered online and mailed to a San Francisco address.

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"With that said, we'll be working hard to move as fast as possible," said Walton.

Su Wai works at the California Tobacco Center on Polk Streets. Vaping has helped her quit smoking cigarettes -- now she says a ban would force her to quit altogether.

"That would help me to really quit if it's not available anymore. That would help me cut off, no going back to cigarettes," said Wai.

Assuming that it passes, the ban will go into effect 30 days later. That means that these products could not be ordered online and mailed to a San Francisco address.

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