On June 5th 2018, the residents of San Francisco California overwhelmingly voted to ban ALL flavored tobacco products. And a big thank you to the FDA for making vapor products “legally (in the US at least)” tobacco products by definition. So the shocking move this week shall ban all flavored tobacco products which include traditional menthol cigarettes, and flavored e-liquid. SF city regulators had passed this measure last summer, but a court injunction led by R.J. Reynolds and small businesses delayed the implementation until a vote could take place.
I mentioned “overwhelmingly” and the landslide hovers around 70% of voters passed this outright ban! The media, advertising, and marketing war leading up to this vote was centered primarily around menthol cigarettes requiring R.J. Reynolds to spend approximately $11.6 million in opposition versus the $3 million spent by advocacy groups. Those advocacy groups used two primary pulpit points to sway voters; flavored tobacco products (in general) entice children who would have otherwise abstained, and menthol cigarettes are inherently racists as a disproportionate percentage of African American smokers prefer them over “standard” cigarettes. “San Francisco’s groundbreaking law stands – and will stop the tobacco industry from targeting kids, African Americans and other populations with menthol- and candy-flavored products, as the industry has done for far too long,” Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids President Matthew Myers said in a statement. Vapor products were mentioned in a small percentage of ads, but this industry largely just got taken for a ride as an included “tobacco product”. By making the conversation centered around dead babies & racism the advocacy groups tugged at the heartstrings of voters and failed to even rationally consider the whole picture.
Science has proven beyond a shadow of doubt that addiction is part of the human psyche. For all of recorded human history dating back some 6,000 years, humans have struggled with multiple forms of addiction. It’s persisted through hundreds of generations, ALL known civilizations, and EVERY period of time. Although a portion of those populations have always been able to deal with addiction in healthier ways, the fact remains that addiction is a part of being human! In a society based in raw Capitalism (present day US) predatory marketing practices are as old as addiction itself. Products that specifically target known addictive pathways in the brain makeup a huge percentage of what we purchase and/or consume. Whether we’re discussing food (think candy, fast food, junk food etc), beverages (sugary sodas, “juice” that contains zero percent juice, alcohol, caffeine, etc), entertainment, travel, and the list could go on and on! The parts of our brains that deal with addictions override ration, reason, and logic. We “know” we shouldn’t do something, but the appeal or drive is so overwhelming we can’t seem to stop ourselves; as individuals or as a society. Removing popular addiction triggers from the marketplace will not remove the “addiction” for those items, it will just force those humans to transfer their addiction to something else. To remove addiction from the human psyche will require evolution. And just because you do not suffer a particular addiction does not invalidate the needs of another person. When speaking about addictions that seem to have evolved with us these past few thousands of years (think alcohol, nicotine, sugar, etc) history has also proven that prohibition does not work, in fact it usually leads to greater numbers of addicted folks! Humans need to be educated on addiction, supported through the transition, and offered alternatives to focus on. Referring specifically to tobacco addiction, science currently shows that humans have been consuming tobacco for at least 2,000 years. Which means this addiction predates the FDA, R.J. Reynolds, San Francisco, all of it! And over this 2,000 years vaping has been basically the first innovation to successfully “refocus” nicotine addiction away from tobacco in any meaningful way across humanity. Nearly 90% of the rest of the World sees this, accepts this as scientific fact, and is gradually moving their populations away from tobacco and into vaping, but the US cannot get past its capitalistic government in order to do the right thing for its citizens. Banning all flavored e-liquid should close every single brick & mortar vape shop in SF, and although I don’t know this number off the top of my head, any liquid manufacturer in the affected geography will also go out of business. The “successful addiction therapy” triangle we previously spoke about, just lost all 3 legs…education, support through transition, & alternative products.
Speaking about the economy, all of those customers seeking a scientifically proven alternative to smoking, or those that just want “flavored (menthol) tobacco)” will continue to spend their resources acquiring said products, it’s just that ALL of their money will now flow OUT of San Francisco lol. I don’t mean to laugh out loud here, but it’s patently amusing how near-sighted these city regulators actually are! SF just voted to LOSE hundreds of millions of dollars in yearly gross business receipts, tens of millions in tax revenue to the city/state, and thousands of jobs! I certainly didn’t see any of this information presented by either said of the argument, “CLOSE 100 SMALL BUSINESSES” just doesn’t make a persuasive picket sign, and I’m certainly not arguing for an anarchist economy of zero regulation, we need to address addiction and public health from a logical, rational perspective filled with compromises.
San Francisco just banned all flavored tobacco products and they did absolutely nothing to deal with their addiction problems. They also severely cut small business, tax revenue, and jobs. This is the sad pathetic reality of what could have otherwise been a first step in the US for science based regulations. And shame on the advocacy groups that tricked the public by only using a fraction of the truth.