Many cities and towns across the United States have or are considering banning plastic straws. Restaurants, fast food outlets, and coffee shops and employees could be fined and/or jailed for providing plastic straws with beverages. In the city of Santa Barbara in California, a restaurant employee or owner could be fined $1000 after an initial warning to stop providing plastic straws and serve a 6 month jail term for multiple infractions of the plastic straw ban ordinance. Supposedly these ordinances have provisions that would exempt providing plastic straws to people with disabilities.

San Francisco has passed a similar ordinance to the one in Santa Barbara. The plastic straw ban will go into effect next year. Read more here:

Disabled Often Forgotten in the Effort to Ban Plastic Straws

Mercury News (East Bay Times)
July 30,2018

San Francisco has decided to ban them in restaurants, cafes and other businesses.

The Disney Company will do so in the happiest places on Earth.

The global campaign to do away with plastic drinking straws is gaining momentum as environmentalistscontinue to try to reduce plastic waste polluting beaches, parks and oceans and filling landfills. Berkeley, Oakland and Alameda are among the growing list of cities that restrict or ban them in many businesses.

But there are also unintended victims of the campaign. People such as 44-year-old San Francisco resident Alice Wong, who has a progressive neuromuscular disability that affects her ability to lift and hold things, tilt her head, swallow and breathe. For Wong, plastic straws aren?t a convenience, they are a necessity of life, and she says the ban feels like a personal attack on her. Straws allow her to drink hot liquids and bend forward to sip a drink, and the alternatives to them often fall apart too easily, fail to bend, or pose injury risks.

Given the wide range of disabilities and needs, activists say campaigns painting straws as nonessential ignore those who depend on them. It is, they say, an issue of equality.