It wasn't enough to restrict smokers so much so that about the only place they can light up now is in the path of oncoming traffic. San Francisco is now looking at tossing out electronic smokers from their local bars.
The FDA ruled today that e-cigarettes are in fact tobacco products, making it that much easier for local politicians to justify a blanket restriction on e-smokers.
Health officials in San Francisco have already talked about the dangers of these quasicigarettes; they look, taste, and feel like the real deal. And the fact that you can still get a buzz from the nicotine inside them is fueling the fire, so to speak.
Last week, Tomas Aragon, health inspector with the San Francisco Public Health Department, told reporters that the e-cigarette, which is battery operated, sends the wrong message to young people about smoking.
E-cigarettes have been deemed healthier alternatives to smoking because they have smaller traces of nicotine and fewer chemicals than traditional cigarettes. They use heat to vaporize glycerin, giving smokers a similar sensation of puffing away on a real cigarette.
Yet the FDA ruled today that they can be regulated as tobacco products, since they still contain nicotine and derive from tobacco.
Local health leaders told SF Weekly that they want the city's smoking ordinance to cover e-cigarettes as well, meaning e-smokers would not be able to light up at bars, restaurants, or in line at the ATM. They plan to take the proposal to the Health Commission next month.
"The big concern is the ability for people to become addicted to
nicotine, and also to be smoking in an environment where smoking is not
permitted," Aragon told KTVU last week.
But Ray Story, CEO of the Tobacco, Vapor, Electronic Cigarette Association, told SF Weekly that putting e-smokers in the same section as real smokers is just ignorant. It would be like asking people who are chewing nicotine gum to sit in the smoking section, he says.
"They'd be pushed to specific places [with smokers] so now they would be subject to second-hand smoke," he says. "They will have to show that this product emits something to ban it."
This sounds like a good fight for Supervisor Eric Mar.