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Warning signs required in Suffolk to sell liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, shakes hands with

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, shakes hands with Legislator Sara Anker, to his right, in in Hauppauge on Monday, March 23, 2015 after signing a local law to warn consumers of the dangers of liquid nicotine. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Stores in Suffolk County have 90 days to post warnings about the dangers of liquid nicotine under a law signed Monday by County Executive Steve Bellone.

The signs warn that liquid nicotine used in electronic cigarettes can be fatal and is addictive. They will have to be posted "in a conspicuous place at the register" at retailers where liquid nicotine is sold.

Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount. Sinai) sponsored the bill, citing increased calls to poison control centers and the death of an 18-month-old boy in upstate New York last year. Liquid nicotine has become popular with "vaping" -- inhaling vapor from an electronic cigarette -- as an alternative to smoking. It is not regulated by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

"It's imperative we do everything in our power to prevent another tragic death from liquid nicotine," Anker said.

Bellone, holding a container of red, strawberry-flavored liquid nicotine, said, "You can see these are products that would obviously be attractive to small children."

Gas station retailers opposed the bill because they said the signs would take up valuable space near registers and put a burden on their businesses. Retailers last year unsuccessfully fought a county law that increased the age to purchase tobacco products to 21 from 18.

The liquid nicotine sign law goes into effect in 90 days.

The law includes a civil penalty of $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second and $1,000 for subsequent violations. The Suffolk County Department of Health will enforce the law through complaints and as part of its other inspections.

The sign, to be downloaded from the county's website, states "KEEP OUT OF CHILDREN'S REACH" and "INGESTION OF LIQUID NICOTINE MAY BE FATAL," among other warnings.

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