Current California Regulation Around E-cigarettes and Public Health Concerns

Recently, several people across the country have become ill or died after using e-cigarettes also known as vaping products. Because of the illnesses and deaths, several cities and states have banned the use of these products. San Francisco is one of the California cities that banned the sale and distribution of e-cigarette back in June 2019. This is relevant because the largest maker and distributor of e-cigarettes in the United States, Juul Labs, is located in San Francisco. The ban was imposed because vaping is responsible for many deaths. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2019) say that incidences of lung injury have been reported in 48 states and 1 U.S. territory, and 18 deaths related to vaping have been confirmed in 15 states. Most of the people affected are male and under the age of 35. Over a third of them are under the age of 20 (CDC, 2019). It is because of this recent outbreak of lung injury that so many cities and states have moved quickly to ban the e-cigarettes, so they can prevent further harm being done to people who use vaping products. However, not everyone believes the ban is a good idea.

Regulations of E-Cigarettes in California

San Francisco and the state of California have moved to tighten controls on vaping products because of a rise in teens who report smoking tobacco and THC products using e-cigarettes. The minimum age to purchase tobacco products in the United States is 18 and 21 for products containing marijuana or THC; however, California raised the age to 21 effective in 2021. Yet smoking among teenagers has increased and officials believe it is because of vaping products. Klivans (2019) of Kaiser Health News explains, “Last year, 1 in 5 high school seniors reported vaping in the past month. That’s almost double the number from the year before. Even eighth graders are vaping in record numbers” (Klivans, 2019). Clearly, young people are getting their hands on the vaping products when they should not be. Pitofsky (2018) of USA Today (2018) reports, “More than 3 million middle and high school students say they regularly vape with e-cigarettes. From 2017 to 2018, the number of high schoolers who reported using e-cigarettes increased 78 percent, according to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey” (Pitofsky, 2018). Many believe that this rise in teens using e-cigarettes is due to the flavors that are offered in vaping products and perhaps weak regulations on vaping products because e-cigarettes were originally marketed as a method to stop smoking conventional cigarettes.

Impact of Regulations on Businesses

While there is no official ban imposed on vaping products by the state of California, many California cities have banned vaping products within their city limits. Creswell and Kaplan (2019) of the New York Times explain that many businesses who sell e-cigarettes have already seen a sharp decline in business because of the bans, and many fear they will go out of business because of them (Creswell & Kaplan, 2019). Yet, the bans address the fact that vaping products have proven to be dangerous and are somehow getting into the hands of people too young to legally purchase them.

It is unfortunate for these businesses who will lose their livelihoods because of the ban, but some feel they were trading the health of young people for money by selling them vaping products. Darmiento (2019) of the Los Angeles Times says, “Despite concerns by health activists that vaping and e-cigarettes have helped create a new tobacco problem, shops that specialize in vape products are one of the few classes of retail businesses that have thrived over the last decade amid the onslaught of Amazon and online sales” (Darmiento, 2019). Of course, Juul Labs will also directly feel the effects of the ban since e-cigarettes are the only products they manufacture.

Profit from E-Cigarettes

Juul Labs, other e-cigarette manufacturers and the retail outlets who sell the products have made a lot of money from selling these products to young people. In 2018, the market of e-cigarette was about $11 billion and it is estimated to be around $ 18 billion before 2024 (Creswell & Kaplan, 2019). Of course, the recent illnesses and deaths associated with vaping products may curtail a good amount of those profits. Bloomberg and Myers (2019) in a New York Times Op Ed say the tobacco companies, who also sell vaping products are “making huge investments in nicotine-loaded e-cigarettes and selling them in a rainbow of sweet and fruity flavors like cotton candy, gummy bear, mango and mint. They’re turning millions of young people into addicted customers, all the while insisting that they aren’t targeting kids at all” (Bloomberg & Myers, 2019). That is how big tobacco has always done though. Because of the unethical way tobacco companies target young people, it does not seem that upsetting that one area of their business will no longer be profitable for them if the bans on vaping products become more widespread and permanent.


E-cigarette companies in California are facing strict regulations due to the impact on the public health from lung diseases that are causing illnesses and death. Now that the bans on these products are in place in several California cities, it is affecting businesses that manufacture and sell vaping products. However, some of the companies that will be affected are owned by big tobacco, who has been marketing e-cigarettes to young people so they become lifelong tobacco customers. This is unethical and businesses that do that should be banned from doing business.


Bloomberg, M., & Myers, M. (2019, September 10). Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes to Protect Our Children. Retrieved from New York Times:

CDC. (2019, October 3). Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping. Retrieved from Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

Creswell, J., & Kaplan, S. (2019, September 12). A ban on Flavored E-cigarettes Would Sharply Cut Sales. Retrieved from New York Times:

Darmiento, L. (2019, October 6). The L.A. vape shop scene was booming. Those days are over. Retrieved from Los Angeles Times:

Klivans, L. (2019, June 25). San Francisco To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes. Retrieved from Kaiser Health News:

Pitofsky, M. (2018, December). Millions of teens are vaping every day. Here's what they have to say about the growing trend. Retrieved from USA Today: