SAN FRANCISCO – A major tobacco company is pumping millions of dollars into a campaign to persuade voters in San Francisco to reject a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products such as menthol cigarettes, certain chewing tobacco and steaming liquids with aromas like cotton candy, mango and cool cucumber.
RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. has contributed nearly $ 12 million to the No to Proposition E campaign by filling television and radio radio waves and mailboxes with advertisements urging voters to reject legislation adopted last year , which is now taking place on the 5th of June.
By comparison, Ban supporters have garnered $ 2.8 million, including more than $ 2 million from billionaire billionaire Michael Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City.
Proponents say a ban would help prevent another generation from sticking to nicotine, but critics point out that California already banned the use of tobacco for more than 21
The San Francisco supervisors unanimously approved a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco last year, with nicotine masked in flavors such as mango, caramel and mint as precursors to induce children to smoke. According to the regulation, smoked juices that taste like tobacco would still be allowed.
The ordinance was to come into force in April, but according to R.J. Reynolds collected enough signatures to put it on the ballot.
Other cities have passed laws that restrict access to flavored tobacco and flavored steam liquids, but San Francisco was the first in the United States to approve a total ban on sales. It was also one of the first to ban indoor smoking in shops, bars and restaurants.
Big Tobacco's spending shows that San Francisco's flavored nicotine ban could become a national trend, said Matthew Myers of the Tobacco-Free Kids campaign that supports the ban.
The manufacturer of Newport, the nation's best selling menthol brand, also sells e-cigarettes. Health experts say the mint in cigarettes helps coat the neck and facilitates the heaviness of tobacco smoke, making it easier to become addicted.
R. J. Reynolds did not respond to inquiries from The Associated Press, and the "No on Proposition E" campaign also declined to comment. His ads, which run in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese, say that San Francisco's ban on flavored tobacco is equivalent to the ban and would lead to a black market for vape products.
Small business owners also reject the ban they say Business is being damaged because people in neighboring cities or online can still buy flavored "e-liquid" and tobacco products. Companies that breach the law could have their tobacco sales permits suspended.
Miriam Zouzounis, board member of the Arab American Grocers Association representing 400 small business owners in the San Francisco Bay Area, said the ban would remove an anchor product that attracts customers, many of whom are immigrants.
"If we do not have the winter-green chewing tobacco of our customer, he will not come in and buy the food or drink or other products that keep our doors open," said Zouzounis.
Dr Pamela Ling, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, which investigates how tobacco is marketed to young people, said that smoking has decreased among teenagers, the use of e-cigarettes but also because of flavored nicotine products and novel vaping devices, including a San Francisco-made JUUL which looks like a USB stick.
"Many children would not necessarily smoke a cigarette, but if you give them some JUUL or a vape, they are said to taste like biscuits and cream or creme brulee, they will Curiosity try, "said Ling.
JUUL did not respond to a request for comment from the AP.
Ling said that there are thousands of nicotine – tasty flü These aromas are appealing to children and adolescents who often do not know that they are inhaling the stimulant, which is considered harmful to the adolescent's teenage brain.
"You can buy the flavored tobacco product on every corner it's just so easy and so accessible," Ling said. "At least banning the products that appeal to children the most would give the kids a chance."
Zouzounis, whose family owns a small business in South Francisco's South of Market neighborhood for three generations, said, vaping stores and hookah lounges They must close their doors if the ban is respected.
San Francisco politicians "talk about having safe injection sites for drug users, they legalized marijuana, but they want to take an already heavily regulated product out of the market?" She said the age limit for tobacco buyers, plus the license and fees for the sale of tobacco. "It just does not make sense."