Using candy flavorings to entice young people to start vaping is a bad idea. So is putting menthol in ordinary cigarettes (it makes them more addictive). Yet in the name of preserving “adult choices,” San Francisco voters are being asked to overturn a citywide ban on selling flavored tobacco products.
The campaign for repeal - bankrolled by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, maker of Newport menthol cigarettes - argues that a ban would only drive the products underground, hurting small tobacco retailers. That’s a weak argument for protecting access to “bubble pop,” “strawberry cotton candy” and countless other flavorings that clearly are meant to get youth started on nicotine.
San Francisco voters need to see through the propaganda and vote yes on Proposition E to preserve the ban. (Bloomberg L.P. founder and majority owner Michael R. Bloomberg has been the leading contributor to the Yes on E campaign.)
More and more teenagers and young adults are experimenting with e-cigarettes, and, in the process, inhaling many of the same carcinogens as are found in combustible tobacco, as well as ultrafine particles that can damage the lungs and cardiovascular system.
The flavors alone can be toxic, recent research indicates. And vapers often go on to smoke conventional cigarettes - especially those who use e-cigarettes that contain high levels of nicotine.
All these dangers explain why the Food and Drug Administration is concerned about tobacco flavorings and is considering restricting them, and why doctors and scientists from around the world are pushing for a ban. San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors was wise to (unanimously) outlaw their sale. Now city voters must see that the prohibition goes into effect.