Let’s Be Real, San Francisco – Coalition to Qualify Referendum on Flavored Tobacco Sales Ban

/Let’s Be Real, San Francisco – Coalition to Qualify Referendum on Flavored Tobacco Sales Ban

For Immediate Release
July 7, 2017

Contact: Jaime Rojas

Concerned Citizens, Small Business Advocates, and Adult Consumers Denounce San Francisco Board of Supervisors Action to Ban Adult Choices, Announce Coalition to Bring Ordinance to the Voters via Referendum Campaign

SAN FRANCISCO – In the wake of the city’s passage of an ordinance that would ban the sale of most vaping products and e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes, and other tobacco products, a group of concerned residents, including small business leaders, retailers, adult consumers, and free choice advocates have announced the formation of Let’s Be Real, San Francisco, a coalition that supports San Francisco’s long-standing spirit of not restricting choices or telling responsible adults what they can and cannot do.

The coalition also announced it is launching an effort to gather signatures from San Francisco voters to force the Board of Supervisors to place a referendum on the ballot, giving the voters final say on whether they want this ordinance that bans adult choice to take effect.

Ordinance 140-17, sponsored by Supervisor Malia Cohen, was unanimously passed in a matter of seconds by the Board of Supervisors on June 27, with the Board hearing no additional public comment, engaging in no discussion, and considering no further amendments.

“What the Board has done with this ordinance is restrict adult consumers from making their own choices, and in doing so, gutting small businesses and retailers in San Francisco,” said Miriam Zouzounis, a board member with the Arab American Grocers Association and a member of the San Francisco Small Business Commission. “This new law is draconian, will not work and will not help its stated goals of keeping tobacco out of the hands of kids. It will create an underground economy for these products, one where sales of flavored tobacco products to minors will be much more likely to occur than with a licensed, regulated retailer who checks ID every time.”

According to a study from the City Controller’s Office of Economic Analysis, 35% of cigarettes sold in the city are menthol cigarettes, which are included in the ban and total about $50 million per year in sales that will be a loss to the local economy.

The ban also includes a prohibition on the sale of electronic cigarette fluids, or vaping liquids, nearly all of which are flavored. Many believe that switching from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes can reduce the harm of consuming tobacco products, and many former smokers said it was only through vaping that they were finally able to quit.  Hookah tobacco, flavored shisha, flavored cigarillos, and flavored tobacco wraps are also included in the ban.

Upon the signature of Mayor Ed Lee, referendum organizers will have 30 calendar days to collect just over 19,000 valid signatures from registered voters and turn them in to the city for verification.


Let’s Be Real, San Francisco

Paid for by Let’s Be Real San Francisco, A Coalition of Concerned Citizens Supporting Freedom of Choice, Adult Consumers, Community Leaders, and Neighborhood Small Businesses with Major Funding by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.  Financial disclosures available at sfethics.org

About the Author:

Stefan switched from smoking to vaping in 2012 and has been a vocal and active supporter and advocate for vapor products and tobacco harm reduction and is frequently seen testifying in front of state and local legislators and policy makers. Outside of Stefan’s legislative and PR efforts, including the creation of the #notblowingsmoke website and movement, he is mostly known for working out of the world’s most famous home office. Stefan has been featured in many articles and interviews on the subject of vapor products, electronic cigarettes, and harm reduction, including professor Stanton Glantz’ Tobacco Control blog at the University of California, San Francisco.

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