San Francisco bans electronic cigarette "until proven safe" | Society

The city of San Francisco (USA) has prohibited the sale of electronic cigarettes "until your safety is proven" by the country's drug agency (FDA). The announcement was made last week by city attorney general Dennis Herrera and supervisor Shamann Walton. "Electronic cigarettes have neutralized the hard fight we have carried out to reduce tobacco use among young people," said Herrera on March 19. "Today we are making a decision to protect our children," he added. Herrera refers to the alarm expressed by the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) for increased vaping among adolescents, what has happened less than 2% of high school students in 2011 to 16% in 2015.

Other cities, such as New York and Chicago have been a step shorter, and have announced that they will do the same if the US agency does not respond. "According to the law, the FDA must assess the public health impact of each new tobacco product before it reaches the market," said Herrera. "Inexplicably, the FDA has breached its work regarding e-cigarettes, which should not be on our counters until the FDA reviews the risk to public health," he added.

And in this aspect the debate returns to the point of friction: that these devices, both those that heat liquids, vaporize them or heat tobacco produce less waste, but they are not innocuous. In September 2018, Scott Gottlieb, director of the FDA, He made it clear: "Electronic cigarettes can be an important opportunity for adult smokers to switch over from the combustion products of tobacco [pitillos, cigarros, pipas] to others of administration of nicotine that may not have the same level of risk. "" But let's be clear: nicotine is not a benign substance, "he added." And this is especially true when it comes to its impact on the developing brain of children, "he continued." We must ensure that we adequately evaluate the net impact on public health of products such as electronic cigarettes before they obtain a marketing permit from the FDA. "

The cradle of Juul

Juul electronic cigarette.
Juul electronic cigarette.

San Francisco is the city where Juul was born, the company that leads the market for nicotine dispensing devices. And, apart from the sale ban, the City Council measures affect them in another way: they also prohibit the manufacture of electronic cigarettes in their territory. And Juul has facilities in the port that are now threatened.

The debate has another problem: if electronic cigarettes have any chance of being approved is because the major evil, conventional cigarettes, are legal. Everyone in the sector admits that if this were not the case and an entrepreneur went to the authorities to ask for authorization to market a product that does not report any health benefits and if it poses a huge risk, it would be rejected outright. But history placed tobacco among consumer products before regulations existed.

This argument is the one that has been made by critics to the extent. Michael Siegel, of the University of Boston, asks himself in an article in the San Francisco Examiner if it makes sense to prohibit the sale of vapers and other devices while keeping tobacco. The same question has been raised by Juul, the leading company in the sector with 70% of the US market (35% owned by Philip Morris), which defends its product as a method to stop smoking intended "only for adults", as Adam Bowen, cofounder of the company, insisted this morning in Madrid, during the presentation prior to the launch of his products in Spain, scheduled for April.

Juul is currently the black beast of those who fight smoking. His arrival in 2015 to the US market coincided with the huge increase of teenagers using these devices, whose creators have taken maximum care of the design. Bowen has said that they agree with the idea of ​​preventing minors from acquiring the product, but not that adults are deprived of the opportunity to use them to quit. A study of the magazine New England Journal of Medicine It states that the rate of abandonment of cigarettes is twice as high among those who use these nicotine dispensers as among those who use other forms such as patches or chewing gum.

But the FDA has not yet completed its study. And the Spanish experts in smoking say that it is a way of entry to nicotine addiction, and that it can be stopped by other means. Data from Spain shows that one third of adults smoke, another third has never done so and a third group has left it, most of them (85%) based on willpower and with difficulties (more than three attempts in the majority), as stated by a survey of the consultancy Ipsos that has been presented today.


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