San Fran Flavor Ban

July 22, 2017 0 Comments

San Francisco Flavor Ban - The Facts on Eliquid Universe

Hello, Vape Nation! This is not a product review. After all, to be able to continue vaping you also need to be aware of legislation and vape related policy issues so you can know what is going on. This blog will also cover the latest in news surrounding the vape industry along with product reviews. I am not a politician at all. My familiarity with politics is limited to the fact that I was a political science major in college, and the issues I pay attention to due to my own interests and the things that will effect me and interest me the most. This is something that may at some point effect me, you, and a lot of people in the vape industry both consumers and business purveyors alike. In case the title didn't clue you in I'm talking about the newest legislation relating to the Flavor Ban that was very recently made official in San Francisco, California. Just a reminder that everything contained in this blog entry is based on fact and my own personal opinions on those facts, and it does not at all reflect the opinions of ELiquid Universe. I am writing this on my behalf to keep you informed, and am expressing personal opinions that are mine and mine alone. I speak for no one but myself. So, with that being said, lets get started.

When I think of San Francisco I think of rolling hilly streets lined with picturesque town houses, with a perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the sun shining bouncing light off of the Pacific Ocean. San Francisco has always been known of a bastion of alternative life styles, creativity, acceptance, forward thinking, and freedom. It is a melting pot of personalities, beliefs, cultures, and different lifestyles. It represents the freedom to be yourself and be accepted and embraced, and it even encourages you to be different. It has always seemed like a veritable cornucopia of colorful personalities. It is a counter culture icon because of the variety of styles thrown together in a celebration of non conformity while still managing to thrive and be sophisticated. You get the impression that you can be and do anything you want without judgement. That is why I think this extremely harsh course of action caught me so much by surprise. In a place where any type of Marijuana, including edibles, is legal (which I'm completely for by the way) I'm shocked that they would refer to flavored e liquid as a tobacco product that is basically a gateway drug to more dangerous things.

Although it was back in 2014 that eliquid was deemed a tobacco product by San Francisco and the state of California, the flavor ban is an ordinance that was put on the table in April of this year by Supervisor Malia Cohen, and it gained momentum until its passage just this past Tuesday. The Flavor Ban is being cited as a "harm reduction" action, but still poses the same problems the law in 2014 did. It lumps vapor products into the same category as tobacco products. Even though the actual ban will not take effect until April of 2018, as a way to "give businesses time to get used to the transition", this is an important topic right now for vapers and vape oriented businesses everywhere. San Francisco was among the first to start putting legislation about vapor products being the same as tobacco products on the books and all of California soon followed which of course made the FDA jump in on that as well. What is troubling is that with this happening in California it is not a stretch to assume that more and more cities and states will be following suit and coming up with their own "copy-cat" flavor bans.

What bothered me most while doing research, fact checking, watching and rewatching press confrences, and reading the logic used to pass this ban was the language used by the people in charge to try and make this a sensical action. Everyone from Supervisor Malia Cohen to the mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee, to the doctor's they had backing them, all the way down the line is plugging this as a major win over big tobacco and the fight to save lives and stop lung related illnesses. Their main reasoning behind the ban is that flavored tobacco products, more specifically menthol flavored tobacco products, makes it easier to enjoy tobacco due to the smooth flavor therefore making it easier to pick it up as a life long habit and make it appealing to our youth. There were also some things said that just plain did not make sense to me. Vaping was barely mentioned. It didn't even really register as a footnote except for them to lump into the conversation as "flavored eliquid". Of the things that really bothered me about what Malia and her entourage of MDs had to say that I found really odd were refrences to certain minorities that are being sucked in by the marketing and sale of flavored tobacco items. They seem to think that menthol and other flavors are being purposely marketed to minorities like African American's, Asians, and LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning), the poor, the homeless, and the underage. According to them, the reasoning behind this is that these groups have more stress and are therefore more likely to use tobacco to cope with the extra stress they endure by being a minority. I found this claim a little ridiculous and almost laughable. Women didn't make the cut in their categories for minorities who smoke to cope with stress even though women make up the largest percentage of smokers out there. Most of the suits and doctors they paraded to the podium to back up these claims only spoke about cigarettes and lung cancer, and they were very smart to pick a group of people who all fell into their minority categories. It seemed to be more of a stunt to back up their own claims more than anything else. They did site actual percentages pertaining to the amount of smokers who were African American, but failed to speak on any actual facts or numbers related to vapor products specifically. Most of the focus of the conversation was about menthol cigarettes and how they are marketed to these "groups". How are these products being marketed to these groups of people according to Malia? The fact that when walking down the street you are bound to stumble past a corner store tempting you to buy flavored tobacco products. I was dumbfounded by this argument. That isn't marketing. That is just location. You are going to pass grocery stores, gas stations, and corner stores when walking down a street. That's just kind of a give in. These places also sell suckers, chocolate, soda, coffee, and other junk food that children and minorities can purchase if they so wish, but that isn't mentioned. All of the ingredients found in eliquid can be found in almost everything you eat and/or drink except for nicotine. Nicotine is the only addictive additive in eliquids and is of course optional. These medical professionals are citing that flavored tobacco products are marketed to African americans and other minorities causing lung related illnesses, but they aren't mentioning that African Americans also make up the largest percentage of people suffering from diabetes. Yet there is no one talking about how cute and flavorful the packaging and product contained in a candy wrapper is, and the dangers that walking by that same corner store and seeing that can pose. There comes a time where you need to stop blaming companies and marketing and start holding people accountable for their own actions. If people are making poor choices pertaining to their health they are making them on their own. Not because there is a pink bow wrapped around it and a chocolate center or cooling exhale. These are adults choosing to ingest what they want, and if you do want to say that they are self medicating with flavored tobacco products to cope with stress then you need to also say that they are doing it of their own free will. They cant say that though because free will is something that they cant take away or over tax. No one mentions how eating unhealthy foods is dangerous for you but less expensive then purchasing healthy food options therefore making it difficult for some people to change those habits and avoid the health problems that will stem from that. Tobacco products are an adult product and as an adult myself I should have the right to choose my own adult actions. I can sort of understand where they coming from when they mention packaging that is maybe a little childish and cartoonish, but even then the product is still marketed toward adults looking for a safer alternative to smoking.

As far as teenagers and vaping. Studies done by the CDC have shown that the use of tobacco products remained relatively unchanged from 2011 to 2015, and according to a report released just a week ago by the CDC since 2015 there has been a large decrease in the use of tobacco products in the US among teenagers. This study includes the use of cigarettes, cigars, e cigarettes, and hooka. Vaping has really only been tracked since 2011 and in that time an increase in vaping has been shown along with a large decrease in tobacco product use. Vaping is now one of the most commonly used form of "tobacco" among people in the United States surpassing conventional tobacco products like cigars, cigarettes,, chewing tobacco, and hooka. This is according to the then US Surgeon General Dr. Murthy who issued the report in December of 2016. Due to the increase in use of vapor products stated in this report the government has been calling for Federal, State, and Local action immediately such as including e cigs in smoking bans as well as significant increases in taxes and the prices of e cig products. Basically, they want their cut.

We are the key generation to stop smoking and put end to or a least at a dent in tobacco related illnesses by offering a safer alternative to smoking with vaping. Selfie Sticks have killed more people than an e cigarette ever has, and no one has banned them. In fact electronic cigarettes or vapor products have not killed anyone, and since their start smoking has been on the decline. They are trying to site this harm reduction law as something that will save people money as far as medical treatment for illnesses that second hand smoke and first hand smoke cause, but are failing to mention that vaping does not have any of the chemicals that cause these illnesses and do not have a second hand effect. The main troubling factor with tobacco legislation is continuing to label vapor products as a tobacco product when it is not. San Francisco has already upped the legal age for buying tobacco and vapor products from 18 to 21 since June 2016 when California Governor Jerry Brown regulated vaping products as tobacco products. They are saying that flavored tobacco, menthol in particular, is a starter product for young people and minorities. They refer to this as SCUM or Subculture Urban Marketing.

Ray Story, CEO of Tobacco and Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association (a industry association) thinks the new ordinance is "extremely irresponsible. He agrees with changing the seemly kid friendly branding, but he believes that many smokers use vaping to transition from smoking. He considers vaping to be its own form of "harm reduction" and a treatment philosophy that proposes reducing the use and negative impacts of smoking for people who are unable or unwilling to stop.

The Executive Director of the San Francisco Office of Small business, Regina Dick-Endrizzi, supports the health related intent, but deeply questions the impact this will have on small businesses and future tax revenues. I have never in my life seen flavored tobacco or vapor products been marketed in a way that made me think "hum...that seems like a product a lesbian or transgender would use" haha in fact I rarely see marketing for tobacco products. It seems like at this point they are just grasping at straws to line their own pockets by overtaxing on products available, and putting about 95% of business owners out of business because they cant afford the upwards of $5 million that these laws are going to take from the industry in total.

It is irresponsible to site this as a harm reduction plan. Taking away vaping options or putting businesses that sell vapor products out of business is just perpetuating lung related illnesses. Vaping is closest thing we have to helping live a tobacco free and chemical free life off of cigarettes and tobacco products. Cigarettes and tobacco products are where the real problem lies, and taking menthol cigarettes off the market doesn't change the addiction to smoking and wont stop people from buying the endless other tobacco options available to them. Making the claim that this is being put into effect to protect minorities and our youth is just another excuse to get them closer to shutting down the vaping industry entirely. I say this because Big Tobacco can afford to take the financial hit of menthol cigarettes being banned, but businesses that focus strictly on vapor products cant and will be forced out of business. Its only going to be effective in upping taxes and costs of vapor products and putting shops out of business. It is entirely unfair to vape shops who depend on in store purchases to keep the doors open. It is also entirely unfair to those of us who have chosen vaping to live a happier healthier life full of breathing oxygen instead of carcinogens and chemicals and are fighting to save lives. The vaping community and industry isn't interested in killing their customers by pumping thousands of chemicals into them with each puff. Its interest lies in helping people make the transition from smoking toxic cigarettes to the healthier option of vaping and of course make some money as well.

I want to imagine a world where people who want to make the choice to live their life in a healthy way prevail, and people aren't trying to stop that because there's no financial incentive in it for them. I was extremely disappointed in what I heard being said by these people. If these are the people responsible for health, wellness, and the laws made to protect that I am very afraid of what the future holds for the next generation. What is so surprising is that they stood up there presenting their reasoning and facts behind this decision, but provided no facts on vaping. This is only affecting the vape industry due to the fact that vapor products have been conjoined with tobacco products despite the fact that they are polar opposites. Dr. Stanton Glantz took the stage in an attempt to add some shock value by having an Easter basket filled with colorfully packaged cigars and stating "No, this isn't candy in front of me. This is a basket filled with tobacco products" and laughing as a crowd of about 8 People holding signs saying things like "Menthol = Death" cheered him on. Nicotine may be an addictive chemical, but it is not what is responsible for the lung related illnesses they claim this ordinance is meant to stop. It is, aside from abstaining completely, our only option to free ourselves from the items that cause lung related illnesses. How can you say that this is something you are doing to keep people healthy and hopefully help people save money by saving them from being sick when you are taking away one of the few options they have to keep themselves from going back to a habit that makes them sick. That is like banning condoms and saying its to stop adults from sleeping with each other. It is absolutely absurd. So far San Francisco is the only city to take a step this extreme and a full ban on all flavored products, but I am afraid that this is just a jumping off point that will give other cities and states the push they need to attempt to implement this in more places. I find self righteous people who claim they know best to be the type who feel if they talk loud enough people will listen, which is never the case. The louder you are the more people tend to stop listening. Especially when you are making a hypocritical claim that this is to reduce harm, save lives, and supposedly save people money on health care. Vaping saves lives. Vaping saved my life 5 years ago and continues to do so to this day. Last I checked, cancer cost a lot more money than a nicotine addiction that doesn't cause disease. Its not too late to try and keep this from actually sticking. Contact representatives in San Francisco and other organizations that are fighting to stop this. Also remember to keep contacting your representatives to make sure you keep the fight to save vaping alive and well just like vaping will keep you. I make sure to contact my representatives every day like clockwork before I go to bed. They have made it o easy to do so. You can contact your reps by texting RESIST to 50409 and following the prompts. This text bot will find your specific representatives and help you write out a letter and then let you preview it before sending it off to all your representatives. You can write good old fashioned pen to paper letters. There are also tons of sites you can visit that I will list below that will help you get started or continue to advocate for your right to keep vaping by staying informed and donating money if you can. If we don't keep our representatives in check then who will. We elected them so they should be there to help us, and with upwards of 10 million vapers out there if we all work together we can stop things like this from happening any where else. Make it clear to representatives that they took an oath to serve your best interests and tell them not to be a promise breaker...be a history maker. Lets aim to be the generation that puts an end to lung disease. Make sure and follow me Instagram where I review and promote vaping and vape products including all things ELiquid Universe related. Feel free to voice your opinion in the comment section. Id love to know what you all think about all of this. There is actually so much more information that I would have put in here, but I felt like it was already a little too lengthy haha. Till next time, keep your vape game strong and keep fighting the good fight. xoxo

Helpful Websites:

www.notblowingsmoke.org

www.r2bsmokefree.org

www.casaa.org

www.sfata.org





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