June 19, 2018

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

San Francisco tobacco product flavor ban: It’s not over yet

Despite the overwhelming support to uphold San Francisco’s ban on selling flavored tobacco products, with 68.4% of voters supporting the law despite a $12 million campaign to overturn it by RJ Reynolds (part of British American Tobacco), health advocates should not relax yet.

RJR may, of course, also sue, but suits against similar laws have failed elsewhere and the San Francisco City Attorney took care to learn from these earlier legal challenges to write a well-crafted law that is designed to withstand legal attack.

More important, based on experience implementing clean indoor air laws, I would not be surprised if RJR (and perhaps other tobacco interests) engages in a campaign to undermine the law by encouraging merchants not to comply, publicizing non-compliance, then working to get the law ignored or repealed.

It is, therefore, that the San Francisco Health Department and health advocates take an active role in educating merchants and consumers (something, ironically, that the political campaign for Prop E contributed to) and be ready to take formal enforcement actions against non-compliant businesses after a reasonable warning period.

Being proactive in implementation will ensure success which, after a while, will become routine.  Anything less leaves the door open to ongoing problems.

Here are some papers we have written on industry efforts to undermine clean indoor air laws after they pass:


The new battleground: California's experience with smoke-free bars.

Magzamen S, Glantz SA.

Am J Public Health. 2001 Feb;91(2):245-52.


Print media coverage of California's smokefree bar law.

Magzamen S, Charlesworth A, Glantz SA.

Tob Control. 2001 Jun;10(2):154-60.


British Columbia capital regional district 100% smokefree bylaw: a successful public health campaign despite industry opposition.

Drope J, Glantz S.

Tob Control. 2003 Sep;12(3):264-8.


Failure of policy regarding smoke-free bars in the Netherlands.

Gonzalez M, Glantz SA.

Eur J Public Health. 2013 Feb;23(1):139-45. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckr173. Epub 2011 Dec 5.


Local smoke-free policy development in Santa Fe, Argentina.

Sebrié EM, Glantz SA.

Tob Control. 2010 Apr;19(2):110-6. doi: 10.1136/tc.2009.030197. Epub 2009 Dec 2.


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