Whether it was Prohibition during the 1920s and 30s, or the government’s failed War on Drugs, not only do bans not work, they end up leading to a whole host of unintended consequences. If the Board of Supervisors’ attempt at banning adult choices stands, the same will happen here.
Everyone wants to keep tobacco out of the hands of kids, but Prop E is a ban on ADULT choices. California recently changed the legal age for all tobacco purchases to 21. Strictly enforcing the Age 21 law, punishing those retailers and other sources who violate it, and educating youth about the dangers of tobacco use are the solutions that would really work for San Francisco. Not bans.
IIf San Francisco bans menthol cigarettes, hookah tobacco, most vaping liquids, and all other tobacco products deemed to have a characterizing flavor, an underground, unregulated and unchecked economy will emerge – just as it did during Prohibition and the failed War on Drugs. During previous failed bans, we saw selective enforcement and mass incarceration. And those selling on the street, unlike licensed retailers, don’t check ID. Don’t bring back these unintended consequences!
This is the last place anyone would expect to adopt a ban targeting and banning products that are preferred by communities of color while leaving the most popular tobacco products legal. This new prohibition would push products like menthol cigarettes onto the streets, and increase the likelihood of unnecessary interaction with law enforcement.
Supporters of Prop E point to a few rare vaping products in their ads. What they dont tell you is their ban goes much further and arbitrarily prohibits a wide variety of adult products, including menthol cigarettes, vaping products, most smokeless tobacco, flavored cigars, and shisha/hookah tobacco.