San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously yesterday to impose the city's strict no-smoking laws on e-cigarettes and vaporizers. In other words, you and that e-cig you've been happily puffing away on will soon have to take it outside the bar with the rest of the smokers.
Supervisor Eric Mar, who previously snuffed out fun by banning Happy Meals, said his legislation was mainly designed to protect children. "Sorry for poisoning all of you," Mar said while puffing away on one during yesterday's board meeting in City Hall. "But it's really important to show - I have a banana-flavored one and a peach-flavored one ... they are really targeted at young people and right now it's not regulated."
Under Mar's bill, e-cigs and vaporizers will be banned from most public places and pretty much anywhere but on the curb. It will also impose special permits on anyone looking to sell e-cigarettes and prohibit their sale outright at pharmacies, which the city did for regular cancer sticks back in 2008.
Naturally, the e-cig faction was out in force at yesterday's meeting to defend their right to smoke flavored nicotine vapor pretty much anywhere they'd like. Most of the argument from groups like the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association claimed the Board misunderstood what e-cigarettes are for. The dreaded "Tech" word even came out. From the Chronicle:
"It's not a tobacco product, it's a technology product ... and this is stigmatizing people who use the product - it sends the wrong message to the public," [SFATA executive director Cynthia Cabrera] said. "It's interesting that the city would rush to regulate something as if it's tobacco when the FDA is still thoughtfully considering the issue. The city is deciding they have more information than the FDA, when the FDA has been looking at it for years."
The medical marijuana advocates from NORML, phoned in their opposition with a prepared statement claiming a ban on vaporizers would harm patients who have no other choice but to vaporize their legal weed.
The legislation needs one more vote at next Tuesday's Board meeting and a signature from Mayor Lee (who is reportedly on board) before it takes effect.