Glen Cove has enacted new restrictions on electronic cigarettes, adding the nicotine product to its regulations on tobacco and barring their sale to anyone under 19.
"It sends a message to the youth that we care about them, we're watching them, and we want to help them," Mayor Reginald Spinello said after the City Council meeting Tuesday night, when the restrictions were approved, 6-0. "We want to teach them about the harmfulness of this product."
E-cigarettes, which heat liquid nicotine that is inhaled, have grown in popularity as an alternative to smoking in recent years. Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed regulating e-cigs as alarm grows over the potential health impact of the products, which have not faced the rigorous testing that tobacco has.
Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a spike in the number of calls to poison control centers for nicotine poisoning from e-cigs. Calls about poisoning from the liquid nicotine they use jumped from about one a month in 2010 to 215 in February.
The Glen Cove amendment also added e-cigarettes to a prohibition on advertising tobacco products within 1,000 feet of a school building, playground, day care or youth center. The advertising cannot be outdoors or indoors where it can be easily seen from outside.
A 2012 surgeon general's report concluded that tobacco advertising and promotions can trigger the onset of smoking among adolescents. Among adults who smoke daily, 88 percent began smoking before they were 18, the surgeon general's report said.
Glen Cove already restricted the sale of cigarettes to anyone younger than 19. The new regulations are tougher than the state's, which prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone younger than 18.
The State Legislature is considering several bills aimed at banning e-cigarettes in bars, restaurants, offices and other public indoor spaces statewide where smoking is prohibited.
State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), who is pushing to strengthen state regulations, said at least three other municipalities have regulated the products: New York City and Suffolk and Cattaraugus counties.
In New York City, it is illegal to use them in any place where smoking is prohibited, including bars, restaurants, offices, parks and beaches. As of Sunday, it will be illegal to sell tobacco or electronic cigarettes to anyone younger than 21.
This month, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone signed legislation that raises the legal age to buy tobacco or e-cigs to 21.
"It is good to be proactive as opposed to reactive to something like this where our children's health and safety is at stake," said Glen Cove Councilman Timothy Tenke, explaining his vote.
"Today you all have raised the bar," Carol Meschkow, of the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island, told the council."We need more elected officials to step up to the plate and make home runs like you did tonight."