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Banning e-cigarettes, not tobacco products, is 'ludicrous,' some public health experts say



San Francisco's ban on electronic cigarettes is an "insane public policy," some public health experts say, arguing that the city should ban all tobacco products instead.

The criticism came after San Francisco on Tuesday became the first major city in the United States to ban e-cigarettes. The ban, which will go into effect 30 days after the Mayor signs the ordinance, was approved by city supervisors who cited the "growing health epidemic of youth vaping" in their decision.

E-cigarette use has undeniably soared among youth, alarming public health officials: 20.8 percent of high school students reported in 201

8 that they had used the vaping devices within the past 30 days, compared to 1.5 percent in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC says cigarettes are not safe for children and teens, but adds that they have "potential for benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant as used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products." Still, the long- term effects of vaping devices are unknown, particularly on youth who smoke them. They contain the addictive substance nicotine but fewer of the toxins that have combustible cigarettes.

While e-cigarettes are generally considered to be less than cigarettes or cigarettes, many parents, school administrators and pediatricians have expressed concern that the way e Cigarettes deliver nicotine is negatively affecting the development of teens, especially because they can deliver higher doses than traditional cigarettes.

" If the board of supervisors were interested in public health, they would prohibit the sale of cigarettes in San Francisco. That's a higher priority than public health point of view, "he said. . "There really is an irony that now you can buy your marijuana and your cigarettes, but you won't be able to get products, which are far less dangerous than cigarette smoking. It's ludicrous." He added that in addition to banning tobacco, San Francisco should make efforts to educate about the possible health effects of e-cigarettes.

Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University School of Public Health whose research focuses on tobacco reduction, called the "insane public policy."

"It makes it easier to get cigarettes than e-cigarettes," Siegel said. "I fear it really sends a bad message to other cities and to youth. It basically says we think it is worse than smoking." "The worst part of this, beyond the fact that perspective, I think it's actually going to harm public health, "he continued. "By taking e-cigarettes off the shelves, you're basically going to force a lot of ex-smokers to go back to smoking." San Francisco's e-cigarette ban comes on top of a 2014 ordinance that banned the sale Whether cigarettes where traditional tobacco products are already prohibited, which includes within 500 feet of any schools.

Siegel suggested further limiting access to cigarettes by merely selling them in stores that are age-restricted where customers are always carded – like liquor stores do.

Dr. Neal Benowitz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and a leading expert on nicotine, agreed.

"The risks of e-cigarettes kids are now unknown and of concern. But to me, the logical thing would be to focus more on restricting youth access to these devices, "he said. "If they wanted to get them out of gas stations and grocery stores, that's fine, but I think e-cigarettes should be available in places like tobacco shops and online access, where there's verification of age." board of supervisors' measure said e-cigarettes posed "significant public health consequence" to minors. The board did not respond to multiple calls or emails for comment from NBC News regarding whether it would consider banning tobacco products.

In the past, vape manufacturers, such as JUUL, which is based in San Francisco, have come under four for not only underage access to its devices, but also for marketing in ways that may appeal to youth, with glossy social media posts and candy-like flavors for its nicotine pods. JUUL says it has since shut down its Facebook and Instagram accounts and strengthened its online age-verification system.

But some say that is not enough to vote the epidemic. Raised the tobacco purchase age to 21, including California


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