Smoking electronic cigarettes in bars, restaurants and businesses will soon be illegal in San Francisco, after the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to treat the relatively new product like combustible cigarettes.

The legislation by Supervisor Eric Mar is intended to limit children’s use of the nicotine product, which he and other supporters contend has been marketed heavily toward young people, and to protect all members of the public from the secondhand aerosol emitted by the devices, he said.

Under the legislation, San Francisco would include e cigarettes in its strict antismoking laws, banning them in most public places besides curbside on city streets, requiring sellers to secure a special permit, and prohibiting their sale in pharmacies and other businesses where tobacco sales are banned. The board will vote on it once more next week, and it will become law in April after the mayor, a supporter, signs it.

It’s the latest step by local and state officials across the nation to limit use and sales of the devices, which the federal Food and Drug Administration has so far failed to regulate. Health advocates say use of e cigarettes is on the rise among high school students, in part because they are sold in flavors such as bubble gum that appeal to kids, and that little is known about their long term health effects.

Mar puffed on an e cigarette as he presented the legislation.

“Sorry for poisoning all of you, but it’s really important to show I have a banana flavored one and a peach flavored one … they are really targeted at young people and right now it’s not regulated,” he said, saying the product could create a new generation of nicotine addicts.

Manufacturers of electronic cigarettes some of which have marketed the products as a way for smokers to get their nicotine fix anywhere they want or as a way to quit smoking oppose San Francisco’s proposal. Cynthia Cabrera, executive director of the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association, said San Francisco’s legislation and limitations implemented elsewhere indicate a “fundamental misunderstanding” by policymakers of “what the product is.”

“It’s not a tobacco product, it’s a technology product … and this is stigmatizing people who use the product it sends the wrong message to the public,” she said. “It’s interesting that the city would rush to regulate something as if it’s tobacco when the FDA is still thoughtfully considering the issue. The city is deciding they have more information than the FDA, when the FDA has been looking at it for years.”

Medical marijuana advocates have also expressed concern. Dale Gieringer, director of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said in a written statement that the legislation will hurt medical cannabis patients who “have no alternative but to vaporize because of the city’s stringent antismoking laws.” He said studies sponsored by NORML have “demonstrated that vaporizers are an effective harm reduction technology, effectively eliminating the respiratory toxins in marijuana smoke and posing zero secondhand smoke hazards.”

Stan Glantz, head of UCSF’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, said the battery operated e cigarettes contain nicotine as well as dangerous chemicals and emit not just vapor but small particles and gases including metals. Just because they are safer than cigarettes doesn’t make them a healthier alternative, he said.

Also Tuesday, Supervisor London Breed introduced legislation she billed as a “comprehensive overhaul” of the city’s graffiti policies. The proposal is supported by a long list of city agencies, including the city attorney’s office, Police Department and Public Works Department.

Under the legislation, the city attorney will be able to pursue civil lawsuits against chronic graffiti offenders, and those repeat scofflaws will be barred from bringing graffiti and etching tools on Muni or into public parks. The proposal will also streamline the city’s evidence collecting system using the 311 phone app. Breed said it could save San Franciscans millions of dollars a year.

Marisa Lagos is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E mail mlagos Twitter mlagos

Why nyc banned e-cigarettes in public places –

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The vote came amid sharp disagreement within public health circles over how to treat e cigarettes. The tobacco free smokes heat up a chemical solution and emit vapors while giving smokers their nicotine fix.

Manufacturers say the mist is harmless, and most scientists agree that regular smokers who switch to e cigarettes are lowering their health risk substantially.

The devices, though, aren’t heavily regulated. And experts say consumers can’t yet be sure whether they are safe either for users or people exposed to second hand vapor puffs.

Like regular cigarettes, the nicotine in e cigarettes is also highly addictive. People who use them may be unable to quit, even if they want to. That has raised concerns that a new generation of young people could gravitate toward e cigarettes and wind up hooked for life or even switch to tobacco cigarettes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said it intends to regulate e cigarettes as tobacco products but has yet to issue any rules, leaving manufacturers free to advertise while regular cigarette ads are banned.

Several states, including New Jersey, Arkansas, Utah and North Dakota, have already expanded their indoor smoking bans to include e cigarettes. Other bans have been proposed in several big cities. About half of the states restrict sales to minors.

The American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids supported expanding New York City’s ban on to e cigarettes Other public health advocates did not. They said that in a nation where roughly 1 in 5 adults are hooked on indisputably deadly cigarettes, safer alternatives should be embraced, not discouraged, even if science hasn’t rendered a final verdict.

E cigarette manufacturers say they don’t believe their products will be used as a gateway drug to cigarettes, and they have criticized New York’s proposed ban as a rush to judgment.

“Companies like us want to be responsible, but when you have municipalities prematurely judge what should be and what shouldn’t be, based not on the science, I think it does the public a disservice,” said Miguel Martin, president of e cigarette brand Logic.