San Francisco is aiming to become the first city in the US to ban the sale of e-cigarettes, in a bid to reduce the number of teenage vapers.
The city plans to outlaw sales within seven months due to an ‘epidemic’ amongst high school students admitting to using electronic cigarettes. Although in California the age limit to buy vaping products is 21 - compared to 18 under US federal law - one in five high school students has admitted to vaping, while there has been a 36% increase in 11-18 year olds using e-cigarettes.
San Francisco is home to e-cigarette giant Juul, which has said it remains committed to helping people quit smoking tobacco. But campaigners say vaping manufacturers are deliberately targeting young people by producing a huge variety of e-cigarette flavours.
Smoking e-cigarettes is known as ‘vaping’ due to the vapour produced from the e-liquid. Users avoid the harmful substances in tobacco that are found in regular cigarettes, but still inhale nicotine. There is an ongoing debate as to whether vaping is harmful, with conflicting advice on e-cigarettes being given in the UK last year and respiratory medicine journal Thorax saying that vaping could damage vital immune cells in the lungs.
In the UK, vapers must be over 18 to buy e-cigarettes, whilst vaping in public indoor spaces is not generally allowed. There have, however, been calls from some MPs to allow vaping on public transport and in some communal spaces.
San Francisco's mayor, London Breed, has said that the ban will begin in seven months, giving retailers time to sell existing stock. It’s thought that some retailers will challenge the decision at this time.
The news of the ban coincides with a ‘shocking’ survey amongst Year 11 pupils in Wales showing that the percentage of teens who regularly smoke tobacco has not fallen since 2013-14. Smoking cessation service Ash Wales reported that nine percent of 15-16 year olds smoke at least once a week, and that 11,000 children in Wales still take up smoking every year.
Public Health Wales said it has a number of programmes aimed at tackling the problem and the percentage of smokers who have been ‘successfully treated’ is rising.