Unfortunately, an ordinance recently proposed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (and sadly replicated by other communities in the Bay area) threatens this legacy as a center for liberal and humane harm reduction policies. Following San Francisco, Oakland, San Leandro, Los Gatos, Palo Alto and Contra Costa County are now all considering legislation that would ban the sale of flavored vapor products available to adult smokers and vapers. The proposals are shortsighted and run counter to efforts to reduce smoking-related disease.
Vapor products or “e-cigarettes” contain no tobacco and produce no toxic smoke, so the products provide a considerably safer alternative to deadly cigarettes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking causes 485,000 premature deaths in the U.S. every year. The LGBTQ community faces particular risk for smoking-related disease as smoking rates are nearly double those found in the heterosexual population.