San Francisco – Vote No on Prop E
Opponents of Prop E Gather at City Hall Urging a “No” Vote on the Prohibition Proposition
With less than a week remaining before the June 5 election, opponents of San Francisco’s ban on menthol cigarettes, shisha/hookah tobacco and many other tobacco products, Proposition E, took to the steps of City Hall with a clear message for the City’s voters: Vote “No” on Prop E and send the Board of Supervisors back to the drawing board to craft a law that actually addresses the issue of underage tobacco use without creating the unintended consequences of Prohibition.
“Prop E is arbitrary and patronizing. It explicitly targets the products preferred by communities of color, as if we’re not capable of making these kinds of adult choices for ourselves,” explained Shawn Richard, Executive Director of Brother Against Guns. “But what bothers me even more is how it will be enforced. Because I have no doubt that enforcement of this ban will look different in my community than it looks in others.”
Opponents of Prop E have pointed to a number of flaws in the proposal as reason for voters to reject it, including its potential to give rise to unregulated sales and the fact that more police resources will be diverted to address these problems. As an alternative to Proposition E, those voicing opposition contend that strict enforcement of the state’s Age 21 law, coupled with better education aimed at instructing youth about the dangers of tobacco use would be more effective.
Carlos Solorzano, CEO of the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce of San Francisco, pointed out another flaw in Prop E that would ban flavored vaping products, a popular tool many adults use to quit smoking.
“If the goal is to get people to quit smoking, why would the Board of Supervisors ban the sale of almost all vaping products?” asked Solorzano. “Plus, it is already illegal to sell tobacco and vaping products to anyone under 21, yet the other side claims the ban would somehow protect minors. Prop E overreaches and makes no sense.”
Miriam Zouzounis of the Arab American Grocers Association voiced her opposition to Prop E at the City Hall rally and expressed her frustration with the misleading and overbroad nature of the ban.
“Supporters of Prop E are misleading the public about this ban. Prop E bans menthol cigarettes, shisha tobacco, and most smokeless tobaccos, but you wouldn’t know it from their ads,” said Zouzounis, proprietor of Ted’s Market. “And they are making this a referendum on tobacco companies, which it simply isn’t. Because people can still purchase these products in neighboring cities or online, the financial impact of Prop E will be felt by local mom-and-pop stores, like mine, that enforce the Age 21 law and pay millions in local taxes.