It seems every week a new hookah bar or vaping shop opens in Suffolk County ["Hookah bars getting zoned out," News, Oct. 13]. This isn't a good thing for our communities, especially our youth.
The Suffolk County Sanitary Code mandates a vendor education class for businesses registered to sell tobacco. However, this class is not mandatory for selling electronic cigarettes. County law prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes to anyone younger than 19 and prohibits smoking e-cigarettes where smoking traditional cigarettes is banned. However, it is almost impossible to know where e-cigarettes are sold and therefore to enforce age restrictions.
Moreover, e-cigarettes come in flavors such as fruit, bubble gum and mint that appeal to children. Many adults and children are unaware that some of these are also nicotine delivery devices and falsely view them as safe.
Also, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, the exposure to formaldehyde from e-cigarettes could be five to 15 times higher than from smoking cigarettes. The "vape pen" used for e-cigarettes is also used to inhale the drug known as "K2" or "spice."
We must educate the community that e-cigarettes are far from a safe alternative.
Robyn Berger-Gaston, Riverhead
Editor's note: The writer is the division director of Youth, Senior and Intergenerational Services for the Family Service League.