San Francisco—home of the vaping manufacturer Juul—is set to ban sales of e-cigarettes, at least until the Food and Drug Administration finishes its review of the devices' effects on health. If the measure passes a vote, the city will become the first place in America to enact a complete ban, the Associated Press reports.
As vaping has taken off among teens, cities and states across the country have responded with a hodgepodge of vape restrictions. In November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than one in five high schoolers had vaped in the last 30 days, up from fewer than one in nine in 2017 and fewer than one in 50 back in 2011. As of March 15th, every state except Michigan and Pennsylvania has enacted laws limiting the sales of e-cigarettes to youth under a certain age, most commonly 18.
Meanwhile, the state of New York is considering a total ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Legislators in Hawaii killed a proposed flavored vape ban in April, arguing that kids would be able to get the products online anyway, the Associated Press reports.
Cities and states have taken the lead, as the federal government has been slower to act. There aren't any nationwide rules about e-cigarette sales. The FDA issued proposed rules in March, including proposals to prohibit stores from selling most flavored e-cigarettes, unless they have a special 18-plus section, and to better verify the ages of people buying e-cigarettes online. Members of Congress have also introduced at least 10 bills this year aimed at reducing vaping among youth, but one has yet to make it into committee, the next step in a bill's passage.
Vaping is less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes, but it's still addictive and has its own dangers, a big national review found in 2018. Experienced smokers who switch entirely to vaping get some short-term health benefits and probably long-term ones too, but the worry is about young people who might not have smoked otherwise: There's "substantial evidence" that vaping increases the risk that a teen or young adult will try traditional cigarettes at least once, the review found, and "moderate evidence" that youth vaping leads to more regular combustible cigarette use.