Is Vaping Banned in San Francisco? 

You may have recently seen some headlines that say something like: “San Francisco Bans Vapes” or “Vaping Banned in San Francisco”, and they might have left you a little worried.

Most people hear or see things like this and don’t give them much more attention, but are still willing to tell their friends and family this “breaking news” without even fully understanding it.

We’re all guilty of it—myself included.

Unfortunately, this results in the spreading of a lot of misinformation.  That’s the reason I like writing these vaping news posts.  To help to try and combat some of the confusion for those who truly do want to know more.

The media can help us somewhat, but we have to be careful not to let it turn our thoughts and opinions to one side or the other, as these sources usually aim to do.  When searching for facts we must remain objective to be able to find the truth and form our own honest opinions.

To this end, I’ve been doing some research and will attempt to condense the most important parts of the story for you.

Oh, and to answer your question in a word: “Is Vaping Banned in San Francisco?”NO.

SF Vape Ban—The Story So Far

There are actually quite a few interesting nuances to this story that you won’t hear about “on the street”.  Let’s start with a brief history of the current “vaping epidemic”.

Ever since JUUL blew up and took over the world of vaping, MANY teens are getting their hands on them and becoming addicted to nicotine without ever even having touched a cigarette.  This has led many people to accuse JUUL of advertising specifically to a younger, less-informed, audience.

JUUL claims (and I personally believe them) that this was never their intention.  They only ever wanted to create a device that made it easier for adult smokers to quit.  They have attempted to prove this point by making multiple efforts to reduce teen usage.  These include ceasing social media advertising and removing the availability of fruit flavored pods from convenience stores.

Mango Vape Ban

These claims are all still being investigated by various parties, including the FDA.

This issue has divided the country.  It’s an interesting time for vaping, and no one knows what the final result will be.

Why SF Banned Vapes

First of all, they didn’t ban vaping outright.  They just banned the sale and manufacturing of vaping products in their city.  Surprisingly, this includes online purchases sent to any address within the city.

San Francisco is enacting these ordinances primarily because of the FDA’s failure to follow the law.  Technically, no product intended for human consumption can legally be sold before direct approval from the FDA.

Now, it’s not like the FDA is doing nothing about this issue.  They are very aware of, and attempting to cater to, both sides of the argument.  Those sides being adults that are worried about the susceptibility of the younger generation and adult smokers looking for a less harmful alternative to smoking.

Furthermore, the FDA has indeed set a deadline for the submission of all vaping products to be reviewed by May of 2020.

FDA and Vaping

However, I guess this isn’t enough for San Francisco, who believes these products shouldn’t be available at all UNTIL they are approved.

A somewhat fair argument I believe, since it is the law and all.

So in June of 2019 SF’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed two ordinances that they view as corrections to the lack of action on the FDA’s part.  This was done primarily in the interest of keeping underage users from vaping.

If you’re interested in reading these ordinances (good luck), here they are:

There are a couple of important points to note here, that you probably haven’t heard about:

  • These ordinances will take approximately seven months to implement, meaning they will not be enforced until early 2020.
  • SF is viewing these ordinances as a temporary ban (or a moratorium) of vape sales until the FDA has finally approved or denied these products.  If the FDA approves them, SF will revoke these ordinances.
  • There is a chance to overturn these ordinances in November of 2019 before they go into effect.

That last point leads us to where the star player of the vaping world comes in.

JUUL VS San Francisco

It’s important to start with the fact that JUUL’s headquarters and birthplace are within SF.  The ban on manufacturing will not affect them however, because prior establishments that already have a license to manufacture vapes will be allowed to continue.  JUUL does not actually manufacture their vapes at this location anyway.


JUUL Headquarters in SF

Until recently, JUUL took a strong stance against these bans.  A spokesperson for the company (Ted Kwong) argued the popular point that these ordinances will force former adult smokers within the city to start smoking again.

He also stated that these types of bans will create an uncontrollable black market which will cause more health risks due to the creation of many unregulated vaping products.

JUUL also started a campaign against these new bans and got enough supporting signatures to allow for the potential revoking of the ordinances in November.  They spent A LOT of money on this campaign.

The Shake-Up

Then, in September, a BIG change occurred at JUUL.  The CEO of JUUL Kevin Burns stepped down from his position, undoubtedly exhausted by the events of recent months.

Taking his place is K.C. Crosthwaite, former Chief Growth Officer of Altria.  In case you don’t know, Altria is one of the largest tobacco companies in existence, being the parent company of Philip Morris, as well as a handful of others.

This—along with the fact that Altria recently bought a 35% stake in JUUL Labs—is giving people renewed worries about JUUL’s true motives.

Altria and JUUL CEO

However, Crosthwaite is taking a vastly different approach then Burns; one which many believe may be exactly what JUUL needs.  He’s pulled funding from the campaign aimed to stop these bans as well as removed ALL marketing for JUUL products.

He aims to have a more open and mutually beneficial relationship, not only with San Francisco but also with the Federal Government and the FDA.  JUUL continues to claim that they want the same thing as everyone else—to reduce teen usage while still offering adult smokers this potentially life-saving option.

Through this, Crosthwaite intends to improve the public opinion of JUUL Labs and convince the masses that they are adamantly working to find a solution that is best for youth and for adult smokers.

Should you be worried about the San Francisco Vaping Ban?

Now that you know the whole story, let’s discuss whether it should be a cause of concern for you.

If you happen to live in San Francisco or own a shop that sells vape products there, then perhaps you should be a little worried.

However, the ordinances still have not been officially passed, and as mentioned above won’t go into effect until early 2020.

So at the very least, you shouldn’t worry yet.

Furthermore, these bans (IF they are passed) may not be permanent.  Eventually, the FDA will likely approve these products, and the bans will be revoked.  If cigarettes are approved and sold legally, I find it very hard to believe that vapes will be denied.

After all, most health professionals agree that vaping is a 95% safer alternative to smoking.

And even if the FDA did ban vaping, I don’t think it would last very long.  History shows that people will get what they want in the end regardless; be that through black market sources or legally approved products.  A ban would just cause more crime and health issues in the long run.

FDA Vape Review

The Part You Play

We all play a part in the future landscape of these issues, even if it doesn’t seem like it.  The best thing you can do, regardless of where you stand on the topic, is to be well educated on the subject if you plan to discuss it openly.

Many news sources thrive on chaos and conflict and will purposefully try to scare the public or portray things differently than they really are.  They do this subtly, and it can be hard to pick out the offenders from the more honest sources.

With this in mind, always try to research any issue you care to have an opinion on thoroughly using multiple different sources.  That way you won’t spread misinformation and give even more power to those more devious news channels.

As an example, while researching for this post I came across an article from NBC that stated: “Federal and state officials have seized on the recent outbreak of lung illnesses — including nine reported deaths — to push through restrictions designed to curb underage vaping.”  

This is all they say about these illnesses and supposed deaths.  They don’t offer any more context than that—omitting the fact that none of these incidents have been confirmed to be related to vaping.

I still need to do more research myself on these supposed claims, (I’m very suspicious of these “nine reported deaths”) but vague statements like these can obviously lead to irrational fear from people who don’t decide to do further research.

Fake News Vaping Ban

So please, do a fairly thorough investigation of world happenings before sharing your opinions on them with others.  If someone brings up a topic you don’t know much about, don’t just come up with an answer on the spot.  Instead, tell them that you don’t know much about it and would have to look into it yourself.

Equally important is not accepting any random person’s statements or opinions as facts until you read more about it.  Doing so would fall under the category of “only using one source” and it’s probably the worst source you could choose.  Even news reports designed to put people at odds with one another will likely be more informative than your buddy’s Facebook status or tweet.

Is Vaping Banned in San Francisco?

No, it’s not.  And neither is the SALE of vape products.  Not yet anyway.

I hope I’ve helped you gain a better understanding of what is happening in San Francisco right now and, for that matter, in the country as a whole.

What will happen with vaping in the coming months is very interesting, exciting, and somewhat worrying for us vapers.  I know I’ll be watching closely and doing my best to keep you all informed!

Speaking of which, more news posts about recent vaping bans—San Francisco isn’t the only one—will be coming soon!

Have a great day JUULers, I’ll see you soon!

What do you think about the situation in San Francisco?  Do you enjoy reading this type of post?  Or are you thinking: “Just get back to reviewing vapes already!” (Don’t worry, they’re still coming).  I personally respond to every comment left on my blog, so let me know what you think!

Or if you’d prefer to hear about new posts via tweet, follow me on Twitter!


Jade · November 12, 2019 at 10:50 am

Vape should be also regularized to public areas. Just like cigarette.

    The Prof · January 13, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    Agreed. They certainly aren’t WORSE than cigarettes!

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