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SF Voters May Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Vape Flavors

By Lesley McClurg | | May 14, 2018

SF Voters May Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Vape Flavors

The candylike packaging for vaping products on display at a Yes-on-E rally. (Lesley McClurg/ KQED)

San Francisco could become the first city in the nation to ban flavored tobacco products from all store shelves. This includes everything from candy flavored e-cigarettes to conventional menthol smokes.

'The industry recognized decades ago that if they don’t get kids to start, they [the industry] will die out.'
Dr. Pam Ling, UCSF

City supervisors last year unanimously approved a ban on the products, but the tobacco industry funded a referendum, Proposition E, to put the issue before voters. Residents will decide in the June 5 election whether the ordinance goes into effect. Voting by mail has already begun.

Nearly $10 Million And Counting

The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company is blanketing the city in radio, television and direct mail advertisements urging a "no" vote on Proposition E. The tobacco giant has shelled out nearly $10 million to save Newport menthols, which is the nation's best-selling mint-flavored cigarette. The ads, featuring vintage film of people smashing kegs during Prohibition, claim that it didn't work for alcohol and drugs, so it won't work for flavored tobacco.

San Francisco resident Donna Anderson agrees. Even though she doesn't smoke herself, she protested on behalf of the No campaign during a recent rally at the Civic Center.

'No on Proposition E' ads, funded by the tobacco industry, liken the proposed ban to 1920s-era Prohibition ...