Vape stores and hookah bars are no longer welcome in parts of the Town of North Hempstead.
The town board voted 7-0 at a Tuesday public hearing to restrict indoor smoking establishments to industrial and business zones.
Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio, who helped draft the legislation, said the goal is to keep such businesses away from residential areas and places where children congregate.
Under the new law, indoor smoking establishments must apply for a conditional-use permit from the Board of Zoning Appeals. There are also strict radius requirements; vape stores and hookah bars are prohibited from opening within 500 feet of a residence, or within 1,000 feet of public places such as churches, schools, libraries or hospitals.
Existing businesses with legal permits will be grandfathered in, said Town Planning Commissioner Michael Levine.
Several residents spoke about their experiences living near shops selling e-cigarettes. Patricia Neubert, of Great Neck, said establishments with their blinking red signage are a poor representation of the town.
“It’s just seedy-looking, I hate to say it,” Neubert said. “We’re the first part of the Town of North Hempstead.”
Other villages within the town have also taken measures to restrict vape stores and hookah bars. Great Neck, Great Neck Estates, Williston Park, Mineola and New Hyde Park have all recently adopted similar laws.
The North Hempstead town board is also considering taking additional measures to discourage e-cigarette use by proposing a law regulating size and display of advertising. A public hearing is scheduled for September.
De Giorgio said she was glad “the town was taking the lead” on this health issue, to limit both where and how e-cigarettes are sold.
“This is a very serious concern, and it really threatens the health of not only children but everyone in general,” she said.
From 2011 to 2015, e-cigarette use by middle and high school students increased more than tenfold, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has stated that youth use of tobacco in any form is unsafe.
The Food and Drug Administration’s ban on e-cigarette sales to individuals under the age of 18 went into effect on Aug. 8. The FDA considers e-cigarettes and vape pens to be tobacco products that are to be regulated and sold as such.