Tuesday July 23, 2019

San Francisco Becomes First US City to Ban Sale of E-cigarettes

There is also the fact that the largest electronic cigarette manufacturer in the country, Juul Labs, is based in San Francisco

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Many people may be vaping nicotine through e-cigarettes, smoking. Image source: post-gazette.com

San Francisco has become the first major city in the US to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes, a measure that affects both brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers.

The 11 members of the city and county’s board of supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted in favour of prohibiting the sale of this product, arguing that e-cigarettes have been gaining popularity among young people, which could pose a risk to their health, reported Efe news.

The glaring contradiction remains that the city – widely seen as one of the most progressive places in the country – has banned the sale of e-cigarettes but continues to sell traditional tobacco (considered to be more provenly harmful by experts) without problems, as well as marijuana, whose recreational use has been legal in the state of California state since last year.

In response to those who have pointed out this seeming contradiction, the measure’s defenders have repeatedly stressed that e-cigarettes are particularly attractive to teenagers.

Vallie Brown, a member of the San Francisco board of supervisors, said at the plenary session held to debate the legislation that for every adult who uses e-cigarettes as a means to help them quit smoking or reducing their doses of nicotine, dozens of children start using them.

Vaping, teeth,e-cigarette, cigarettes
In this Feb. 20, 2014 file photo, a customer exhales vapor from an e-cigarette at a store in New York. A growing number of e-cigarette and vaporizer sellers have started offering college scholarships as a way to get their brands listed on university websites. VOA

The ordinance specifically states that “no person shall sell or distribute an electronic cigarette to a person in San Francisco” unless that product has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, something that has not occurred so far, as researchers are still unsure about the health effects of these relatively-new devices.

The ordinance does not prohibit the consumption of these cigarettes (as long as the person is over 21 years old); only their sale, which has also been criticized by some people in the sector who argue that consumers will simply buy them in nearby cities such as Oakland or Berkeley instead.

Also Read: Micro-blogging Site Twitter Testing Ways to Improve ‘Lists’ Feature

There is also the fact that the largest electronic cigarette manufacturer in the country, Juul Labs, is based in San Francisco.

“The prohibition of vapor products for all adults in San Francisco will not effectively address underage use and will leave cigarettes on shelves as the only choice for adult smokers,” the company said in a statement. (IANS)

Next Story

Oakland Becomes Second City to Ban Facial Recognition Technology

However, some other organizations supporting the technology argued that the ban would hurt the law-enforcing capabilities of police officers when they are called for help

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A U.S. Customs and Border Protection facial recognition device is ready to scan another passenger at a United Airlines gate (Representational image). VOA

The city of Oakland in Northern California has become the second Bay Area city to outlaw the use of facial recognition technology by municipal agencies following a unanimous vote by its council to approve the ban.

The City Council of Oakland passed unanimously an ordinance to prohibit municipal agencies including city police from acquiring or using facial technology in law enforcement. A final vote on the legislation, which is widely seen as procedural, will take place in September this year.

Rebecca Kaplan, President of Oakland City Council, who introduced the ordinance, said in a tweet on Wednesday that she appreciated everyone’s effort to join “together in working to block flawed technology that invades privacy and worsens racial disparities in policing,” Xinhua news agency reported.

The latest legislation made Oakland the second Bay Area city to forbid the controversial technology after San Francisco adopted a similar ban in May 2019. Oakland is also the third US city to declare facial technology illegal following a decision by Somerville city in Massachusetts to join the rank of San Francisco in June.

The ordinance called facial recognition technology “an automated or semi-automated process that assists in identifying or verifying an individual based on an individual’s face”.

Kaplan said the powerful technology runs the risk of making Oakland residents less safe because it is often inaccurate, invasive and lacks established ethical standards with high possibilities of being abused by government agencies.

An Apple employee demonstrates the facial recognition feature of the new iPhone X at the Apple Union Square store in San Francisco. VOA

On Tuesday, a California rights advocacy group urged Oakland city to ban the use of facial technology, which it claimed would “lead to new violations of civil rights”.

The Northern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a nationwide non-profit fighting for individual rights, wrote a letter to the members of the Oakland City Council, urging the city to pass the ordinance to protect Oakland residents from “dangerous, invasive, and biased systems that endanger their civil rights and safety.”

Also Read: Government Seeks Reply From TikTok, Asks to Answer Queries or Face Ban

The ACLU of Northern Northern California on Wednesday welcomed Oakland’s legislation. Matt Cagle, the organization’s civil liberties attorney, said Oakland’s decision indicated how “democracy can work to protect civil rights”.

“Decisions about surveillance technology are being made by the public and impacted communities through their elected representatives — not by police or vendors acting alone and in secret,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

However, some other organizations supporting the technology argued that the ban would hurt the law-enforcing capabilities of police officers when they are called for help. (IANS)