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San Francisco To Become First U.S. City to Ban E-cigarettes

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  • San Francisco’s board of supervisors voted to ban the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes in the city, unless they have been premarket approved by the FDA.
  • The FDA does not currently regulate any e-cigarettes on the market, which has been a source of frustration for many who are concerned by the rise in e-cig use among teens. 
  • City officials say this ordinance was created to prevent teens from using the products.
  • However, Juul, the biggest e-cigarette producer in the nation, says the legislation will only hurt adult users who could now turn back to traditional cigarettes. 

Board Of Supervisors Vote on Ordinance

San Francisco is poised to be the first U.S. city to ban electronic cigarettes. 

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted in favor of an ordinance that bans the sale and distribution of the product in the city, unless it has been premarket reviewed and approved by the FDA. Currently, no products of this kind have been. 

The ordinance would also ban products from being shipped to an address in San Francisco through online orders.

The ordinance will now head next to Mayor London Breed, who is expected to sign it. Breed released a statement following the vote saying she believes this will benefit the health of young people in the city.

“There is so much we don’t know about the health impacts of these products, but we do know that e-cigarette companies are targeting our kids in their advertising and getting them hooked on addictive nicotine products,” Breed said. “We need to take action to protect the health of San Francisco’s youth and prevent the next generation of San Franciscans from becoming addicted to these products.”

Problems with FDA Regulation

Under the Tobacco Control Act, the FDA should have a role in reviewing e-cigarettes. The ordinance says that all new nicotine products, specifically those that entered the market after 2007, “must be authorized by the FDA for sale in the United States before it may enter the marketplace.”

“Virtually all electronic cigarettes that are sold today entered the market after 2007, but have not been reviewed by the FDA to determine if they are appropriate for the public health,” the ordinance continues. 

San Fransisco City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, also released a statement on Tuesday about the vote, saying that San Francisco is taking action because the FDA has not.

“E-cigarettes are a product that, by law, are not allowed on the market without FDA review,” he said. “For some reason, the FDA has so far refused to follow the law. If the federal government is not going to act, San Francisco will.”

Currently, the FDA does have a plan to conduct reviews for these products. According to their site, e-cigarettes must be submitted for review by August 8, 2022. However, San Fransisco officials do not want to wait that long. 

In the ordinance, officials wrote that the products will have been on the market for 15 years by that point. Between now and 2022, they estimate that six million more youths will have used e-cigarettes. 

“San Francisco is not content to wait until then before addressing, for its residents, what appears from the evidence to be a major public health crisis that is going unattended,” the ordinance says. 

The city of San Francisco is not alone in expressing frustrations with the FDA when it comes to their regulation of nicotine products and e-cigarettes. Several health organizations sued the FDA, saying that their inaction has lead to increased use of vaping products among teens.

In May, a federal judge sided with those organizations and said that the FDA needs to review e-cigarettes. 

Youth and E-Cigarette Use

According to the CDC, one in five high school students uses e-cigarettes, while one in twenty middle schoolers use the product. 

E-cigarette use in highschoolers increased from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 20.8 percent in 2018. The CDC also says that teens often become dependant on nicotine at a quicker rate than adults. 

Criticism of Ordinance

San Fransisco’s ordinance has received criticism. Juul, the leader in the e-cigarette industry in the U.S., is based in San Fransisco. Their spokesperson Ted Kwong released a media statement saying that this decision could cause problems for adult users. 

“This full prohibition will drive former adult smokers who successfully switched to vapor products back to deadly cigarettes, deny the opportunity to switch for current adult smokers, and create a thriving black market instead of addressing the actual causes of underage access and use,” the statement said. 

According to CNN, Juul supports stricter regulation, but not prohibition. The company says they want to include electronic age verification technology and limit how much can be purchased at once.

They are not the only critics. Dr. Steven A. Schroeder, a health professor at the University of California, San Francisco, told the New York Times he does not think the law makes sense.

“On the face of it, it’s ludicrous that we would ban e-cigarettes, but permit the sale of tobacco and cannabis.” he said. “It’s really smart politics but dubious public health.”

The ordinance will not become an effective policy until 30 days after the mayor signs it. After that, it has six months to be fully implemented. 

See what others are saying: (CNN) (Esquire) (New York Times)

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Biden to Mandate COVID Vaccines for Federal Workers as CDC Changes Masking Guidance

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News of the efforts came on the same day that the U.S. reported more than 100,000 new daily COVID cases for the first time since February.


Federal Vaccine Mandate

President Joe Biden will announce Thursday that all federal employees must get vaccinated against COVID-19 or consent to strict testing and other safety precautions, White House officials told reporters Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Biden said he was considering the requirement but did not provide any more information.

While the officials also said the details are still being hashed out, they did note that the policy would be similar to ones recently put in place by California and New York City, which respectively required state and city workers to get the jab or submit to regular testing.

Also on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their guidelines to recommend that Americans who live in areas “of substantial or high transmission,” as well as all students and teachers, wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status.

Delta Causes Spikes, But Vaccines Still Prove Effective

The renewed COVID mitigation efforts come as the delta variant is driving massive surges all over the country.

Coronavirus cases have quadrupled throughout July, jumping from a weekly average of 11,799 on the first day of the month to 63,248 on Tuesday, according to The New York Times tracker. Tuesday also saw new daily infections topping 100,000 for the first time since February, with more than 108,000 reported, per The Times.

While the vast majority of new infections are among people who have not been vaccinated, there have also been increasing reports of breakthrough cases in people who have received the jab. 

Those cases, however, do not mean that the vaccines are not effective. 

No vaccine prevents 100% of infections. Health officials have said time and time again that the jabs are intended to prevent severe disease and death, and they are doing just that.

According to the most recent data for July 19, the CDC reported that only 5,914 of the more than 161 million Americans who have gotten the vaccine were hospitalized or died from COVID-19 — a figure that represents 0.0036% of vaccinated people.

While safety precautions may be recommended for some people who have received the vaccine, many media narratives have overstated the role breakthrough cases play in the recent spikes. As New York Magazine explains, it is imperative to understand these new mask recommendations are not happening because the vaccine is not effective, but because not enough people are getting the vaccine.

“Because breakthrough infections have so often made the news due to their novelty, that can create a perception of more cases than are actually happening — particularly without more robust tracking of the actual cases to provide context,” the outlet wrote.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNBC)

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Wisconsin Police Deny Planting Evidence in Viral Video, Release Their Own Body Cam Footage

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The footage police released shows that during a search, officers found a corner tear from a plastic bag inside a backseat passenger’s pocket. An officer then discarded it into the car after determining that it was empty.


Viral Video Appears To Show Officer Planting Evidence

The Caledonia Police Department in Wisconsin has responded to a viral cell phone video that appears to show an officer planting a small plastic baggie inside of a car during a traffic stop.

The now-viral footage was posted to Facebook by a man who goes by GlockBoy Savoo.

The user, who also filmed the clip, wrote in his post’s caption that the officer did this “just to get a reason to search the car” and said the cop didn’t know he was being recorded by the passenger.

Source: Facebook/ GlockBoy Savoo

Police Shut Down Accusations With Their Own Footage

After that video spread across social media, many were outraged, calling the Caledonia police dirty for seemingly planting evidence. All the outrage eventually prompted the department to announce an investigation Saturday.

Within hours, the department provided an update, claiming that officers didn’t actually plant any evidence or do anything illegal.

Police shared a lengthy summary of events, along with two body camera clips from the incident. That statement explained that the driver of the vehicle was pulled over for going 63 in a 45mph zone.

Two passengers in the backseat who were then spotted without seatbelts were asked to identify themselves and step out of the car. During a search of one passenger’s pockets, an officer pulled out “an empty corner tear” from a plastic baggie.

Police claim the corner tear did not contain any illegal substances, though they said this type of packaging is a common method for holding illegal drugs.

In one body cam clip, an officer can be heard briefly questioning the backseat passenger about the baggie. Then, that piece of plastic gets handed off to different officers who also determined it as empty before the officer in the original viral video discarded it into the back of the car.

The officer can also be seen explaining where the plastic came from to the passenger recording him.

“Aye, bro you just threw that in here!” the front seat passenger says, as heard in his version of the events.

“Yeah, cause it was in his pocket and I don’t want to hold onto it. It’s on their body cam that they took it off of him…I’m telling you where it came from, so. It’s an empty baggie at the moment too, so,” the officer replies.

The department went on to explain that while it would discourage officers from discarding items into a citizen’s car, this footage proves that evidence was not planted.

Authorities also noted that no arrests were made in this incident and the driver was the only one issued a citation for speeding. The statement added that since four officers were present at the scene, police have more than six hours of footage to review but they promised to release the footage in full in the near future.

See what others are saying: (Heavy)(CBS 58) (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

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Medical Groups, Local Leaders Push for Healthcare Workers and Public Employees To Get Vaccinated

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The move comes as COVID cases have nearly quadrupled in the last month due to the rapid spread of the highly infectious delta variant.


Increased Calls for Mandatory Vaccinations in Certain Sectors

More than 50 of America’s largest medical groups representing millions of healthcare workers issued a statement Monday calling for employers of all health and long-term care providers to require mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations.

The groups, which included the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, and 55 others, cited contagious new variants — including delta — and low vaccination rates.

“Vaccination is the primary way to put the pandemic behind us and avoid the return of stringent public health measures,” they wrote.

The call to action comes as new COVID cases have almost quadrupled during the month of July, jumping from just around 13,000 infections a day at the beginning of this month to more than 50,000.

While the vast majority of new infections and hospitalizations are among those who have not received the vaccines, many healthcare workers remain unvaccinated. According to data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, over 38% of nursing home staff were not fully vaccinated as of July 11. 

An analysis by WebMD and Medscape Medical News found that around 25% of hospital workers who were in contact with patients had not been vaccinated by the end of May when vaccinations became widely available.

In addition to calls for medical professionals to get vaccinated, some local leaders have also begun to impose mandates for public employees as cases continue spiking.

Last month, San Francisco announced that it was requiring all city workers to get vaccinated. Also on Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that all municipal employees — including police officers and teachers — must either get the jab or agree to weekly testing by the time school starts in September.

Dr. Fauci Says U.S. Officials Are Considering Revising Mask Guidance for Vaccinated People

Numerous top U.S. health officials have applauded efforts by local leaders to mitigate further spread of the coronavirus, including the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who confirmed Sunday that federal officials are actively considering whether to revise federal masking guidelines to recommend that vaccinated Americans wear face coverings in public settings.

In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people who are vaccinated do not need to mask in public. Although that was a non-binding recommendation, many states and cities that had not already lifted restrictions on masking began to do so shortly after.

But now, local leaders in areas seeing big spikes have begun reimposing mask mandates — even for those who are vaccinated — including major counties like Los Angeles and St. Louis.

In his remarks Sunday, Fauci also emphasized that, despite claims from many conservatives, those efforts are in line with the federal recommendations, which leave space for local leaders to issue their own rules.

While Fauci and other top U.S. public health officials have encouraged local governments to take action, Republican lawmakers in several states are taking steps to limit the ability of local leaders and public health officials to take certain mitigation measures.

According to the Network for Public Health Law, at least 15 state legislatures have passed or are considering bills to limit the legal authority of public health agencies — and that does not even include unilateral action taken by governors.

Some of the leaders of states suffering the biggest spikes have banned local officials from imposing their own mask mandates, like Arkansas, which has the highest per capita cases in the country right now, as well as Florida, which currently ranks third.

Notably, some of the laws proposed or passed by Republicans could go beyond just preventing local officials from trying to mitigate surges in COVID cases and may have major implications for other public health crises.

For example, according to The Washington Post, a North Dakota law that bans mask mandates applies to other breakouts — even tuberculosis — while a new Montana law also bars the use of quarantine for people who have been exposed to an infectious disease but have not yet tested positive.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (The Guardian)

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