San Francisco has REAL Problems: homelessness; car break-ins and other property crimes; a lack of affordable housing; and traffic nightmares. Rather than address these issues, the Board of Supervisors decided to focus their attention on banning adults from buying legal products in the City.
Minors are protected by existing law. Newly passed laws make it illegal to give or sell any tobacco product to anyone under 21 in California. If government leaders were really interested in keeping tobacco products out of the hands of minors, they would strictly enforce the laws already on the books. Instead they enacted a “feel-good” ban targeting adult choices.
California voters recently passed a 200% increase in the tax on tobacco. These taxes—which generate over $1 billion per year—are supposed to be going to education, healthcare, and enforcement. Education and enforcement are the real solutions and California laws already provide tens-of-millions of dollars for both.
Bans and prohibitions targeting legal adult choices will lead to unintended consequences and selective enforcement. If San Francisco bans menthol cigarettes, shisha tobacco, most vaping products and other tobacco products they say have characterizing flavors, an underground economy will likely emerge—just as it did during the failed war on drugs and during Prohibition. History and common sense tell us that removing these products from regulated retail channels will force sales to the street—where anyone, including people who are underage will be able to buy them.
This ban will hurt neighborhood markets. A study by the City’s own Office of Economic Analysis estimated that San Francisco would lose $50 million in sales if the ban were approved, resulting in a “material impact on the City’s economy.” San Franciscans with ready access to transportation or the internet will still be able to get the products they want from neighboring cities or online. The lost revenue and direct harm to neighborhood stores in the City will mean fewer job opportunities, higher prices, and reduced services. To make matters even worse, many of these corner stores are owned by first- and second-generation Americans, who are simply trying to make a better life for their families
This ban appears to be paternalism, or more, at its worst. Who would think that San Francisco, of all places, would intentionally target and ban the tobacco products most preferred by minority communities, while the most popular tobacco products will remain legal in the City? That’s what this ban does, it targets the choices of adult menthol and shisha tobacco consumers.
Vaping may be the most successful and widely accessible tool to help smokers who choose to quit. So why ban it? There’s more and more evidence that points to vaping as a potentially less harmful alternative to cigarette smoking. But nearly all vaping products are flavored and would fall under the Board’s ban. Studies have shown that smokers looking to quit prefer flavored vaping products in order to distance themselves from the tobacco experience. Plus, it’s already unlawful in the City to sell vaping products to anyone under 21.
“We the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Central American Chamber of Commerce (BACACC), join the coalition of concerned San Franciscans who oppose the flavored tobacco ban as part of Lt’s Be Real, San Francisco. We stand with small businesses who are affected by the bans that don’t work, and affects small business owners who are trying to survive.”
"We the Board of Directors of American Petroleum & Convenience Store Association, are in agreement and join the coalition of concerned San Franciscans who oppose the flavored tobacco ban as part of the Let’s Be Real, San Francisco. We stand with the residents and small businesses who know that bans don’t work, and drain small business owners who are struggling to keep employees and provide for their families."
“The Guatemalan American Chamber of Commerce (GACC), join the coalition of concerned San Fraciscans who oppose the flavored tobacco ban as part of Let’s Be Real, San Francisco. We support the small businesses affected by the flavor tobacco ban, this does not work, and we are going to lose more small businesses in San Francisco.”
“We the Board of Directors of the Nicargauan American Chamber of Commerce Northern California (NICAMERCCNC), are in agreement and join the coalition of concerned San Franciscans who oppose the flavored tobacco ban as part of Let’s Be Real, San Francisco. We stand with the residents and small businesses who know that bans don’s work, and drain small business owners who are struggling to keep employees and provide for their families.”