Keep Smoking San Francisco, The Golden Gate City Needs MSA Funds

 

Source: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File

 

By Lindsey Stroud

After banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and flavoring in e-cigarettes, San Francisco is snuffing out tobacco harm reduction again. Frisco is now the first city to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes. Mayor London Breed is expected to sign the ban, which will essentially save tobacco companies by wiping out a major competitor: electronic cigarettes and vaping devices.

This is especially ironic because 23 years ago San Francisco became the first locality to sue major tobacco manufactures, after nine states filed lawsuits to recoup state health care funds for smoking-related illnesses. The class-action suit resulted in the largest settlement in U.S. history: the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).

Under the MSA, participating tobacco companies are bound to pay the suing states, in perpetuity, a portion of the revenue collected from tobacco sales. And though many public health advocates believed this to be a major win, the real losers of the MSA were smokers, who are essentially paying the annual payments to the states through “user fees.”

San Francisco is raking in MSA funding. From 2017 to 2018, MSA payments to The Bay City increased by 19 percent from $9.173 million to $10.952 million. In 2002, San Francisco was one of three California cities (including Los Angeles and San Diego) slated to receive “approximately half” of the estimated $21 billion in MSA funds earmarked for the Golden State over a 25-year period, according to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Unfortunately for big tobacco and localities across the land, e-cigarettes have totally disrupted the status quo. Since their introduction to the U.S. market in 2007, an estimated three million American adults have used these products to quit smoking. Indeed, e-cigarettes have been “twice as effective” as nicotine replacement therapy in helping smokers quit.

Moreover, despite fearmongering campaigns against e-cigarettes, these products are significantly less harmful than combustible cigarettes. Numerous public health groups including Public Health England, the Royal College of Physicians, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine note e-cigarettes are less dangerous than combustible cigarettes. In June 2019, the American Cancer Society stated existing research “has found that e-cigarette use is likely to be significantly less harmful for adults than smoking regular cigarettes.”

It is alarming that San Fran, which prided itself in 1996 on being the first locality to fight big tobacco, would shutter an industry that is helping remedy the effects of combustible cigarettes. In 1996, then-San Francisco City Attorney Louise Renne told the Los Angeles Times that “[c]ounties in particular cannot afford their scarce public funds drained by having to pay for the treatment of tobacco-related illnesses.”

Even more alarming, San Francisco officials are restricting adult access to tobacco harm reduction products in an effort to save the precious MSA dollars that are borne by the lungs of smokers who would most benefit from e-cigarettes being widely available.

Unfortunately, 2019 has been riddled with an onslaught of misguided legislation and fake news fearmongering campaigns targeting e-cigarettes. For the record, levels of formaldehyde cited in one widely acclaimed 2016 bogus study have been totally debunked. Even the lower levels of formaldehyde found in more recent and less biased studies were still significantly lower than the levels of formaldehyde found in combustible cigarettes. In essence, San Francisco would rather smokers be subject to more dangerous chemicals so MSA funds keep on flowing.

In May, Mayor London unveiled a budget that includes “more than $1 billion in additional spending,” for the next fiscal year. It is overwhelmingly apparent public officials in San Francisco do not care about public health, they care about tobacco dollars.

Lindsey Stroud ([email protected]is a state government relations manager at The Heartland Institute.

This article first appeared here.

 

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Tuesday, July 28th, 2020 at 5:04am
#SanFrancisco , my old home town, what have you done !!
😩 https://t.co/f0GIbshZ8f
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Lindsey Stroud @lmstroud89
Ironically enough, cigarette smoking actually went up after this flavor ban...
Then the city banned all e-cigarettes... https://t.co/RNol32S3OU
Tuesday, July 28th, 2020 at 4:41am
@IVapeBTW @ChaunceyGardner Careful saying this 'caffeine=addictive and harmful' too loudly, or they'll get ideas.....
By the way, just like nicotine, caffeine taken in large doses is fatal. https://t.co/YMg0lhrLcV
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Saturday, July 25th, 2020 at 7:05pm
I quit #TOBACCO with #vaping . Using flavors was extremely important in that process. It still is. The CA flavor ban would RUIN most chances at getting free from the #TobaccoGenocide . https://t.co/929uCvk8js TheVaporNinja photo
Thursday, July 9th, 2020 at 2:06pm
CALL or WRITE the California Assembly members about the upcoming California #flavor ban ! https://t.co/XvNgmqGZpQ
Thursday, July 9th, 2020 at 4:57am
Incense, sage, cedar, myrrh.. many things have been vaporized or smoked by our ancient cultures... was it to, as they claim, purify the space ? Perhaps it purifed biologically also. https://t.co/EvHkPQjGfU
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Eliana Golberstein Rubashkyn 👩‍🔬⚗🧪💛💜 @ElianaGolber
Is the smoke aura the one that creates effective air disinfection around smokers? Can this explain why they are less likely to get #covid19?

Ancient traditions all over the world used smoke for air purification.

What they knew that we as scientist are ignoring? https://t.co/J9QupLV7vx
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Sunday, June 28th, 2020 at 3:53pm
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) came out in favor of the use of vaping products for people who have a psychiatric diagnosis in 2018. https://t.co/mOxMdr8kmo

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