SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – After San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors issued a rebuke on Tuesday to state lawmakers who halted the nation’s first ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, California lawmakers appeared to coast through the 2019 legislative session on a shiny bullseye.

California State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) teamed up with other city officials in November 2017 to pass San Francisco’s landmark legislation to ban electronic cigarettes from public places where regular cigarettes aren’t allowed. Although California lawmakers tried to stall the ban, San Francisco supervisors voted 8-0 to adopt the law.

Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) are credited with the December 2017 law that prohibited local governments from enacting their own e-cigarette bans unless the state acted first.

Assemblyman Howard Miller (R-Orinda) and state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) teamed up with two other legislators to strike down San Francisco’s law in February 2018 and then the California Medical Association (CMA) and California Restaurant Association (CRA) joined forces to nix the local ban. They hoped the ban would weaken a 2017 state law that enacted smoking and vaping bans in all public places and private workplaces.

“San Francisco continues to lead the way in advancing the great public health initiative of restricting the smoking of electronic cigarettes to minors,” Senator Wiener said. “We may not get everything we want in state legislation but if the state refuses to stand up for the interests of our local communities, they can rely on cities and counties to step in and do so for them.”

Santiago vetoed San Francisco’s marijuana legalization bill that same year. Wiener shot back with a bill this year that would ban vaping in enclosed areas or offices and would require employees to use ventilation fans in vapor rooms. The bill passed the state Assembly in May and heads to the state Senate in two weeks.

The resistance to regional and local government’s efforts to legislate and ban e-cigarettes has been pushed back, especially by the food industry. California Food Industry Association vice president of Public Policy Scott Irwin said the media erred when they reported on San Francisco’s electronic cigarette regulations in February.

“The City of San Francisco is essentially ‘banning’ e-cigarettes and that is simply not the case,” Irwin said. “City regulations are structured to protect youth from exposure to e-cigarettes and encourage adult smokers to switch to safer alternatives that are currently proven to be far less harmful than traditional cigarettes.”

San Francisco’s actions are part of a larger national debate. Last month, lawmakers in New York City overturned an ordinance to ban adults from using e-cigarettes in the same places they can already use traditional cigarettes. Similar action in Missouri turned out to be a resounding failure.

Similar actions haven’t stopped local legislators from putting obstacles up in front of the industry, despite health advocates’ calls for more caution.

The California Medical Association has lobbied hard for this resolution, and the agency’s opposition to this move led to a vow from its head lobbyist in the State Capitol.

“We expect this bill to sail through the State Senate with little or no opposition,” Dean Zabell said. “We will closely monitor whether the bill reaches the governor’s desk.”

Zabell, a smoking-cessation expert and acting executive director of the CMA, was one of the legislators who had an emotional personal connection to the ban. His son, Caleb Zabell, now 27, died of a tobacco-related illness after using e-cigarettes.

While not everyone agrees that a smoke-free law is the best way to ensure that minors do not get their hands on e-cigarettes, national anti-smoking organizations and individual cities are supporting cities, counties and states in their efforts to enact vaping restrictions.

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