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Floral Park passes amendment to allow vape shops, hookah bars

Village Hall in Floral Park is seen on

Village Hall in Floral Park is seen on July 28, 2017. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Floral Park trustees approved an amendment Tuesday that will allow vape shops and hookah bars to open in the village, but only in a designated section of the community.

Trustees unanimously passed the amendment 5-0, though they said they would rather ban the establishments because of the negative health effects of vape smoke. One Floral Park official noted that the village cannot deny a business its right to open just because it intends to sell vape.

“We do not want this in our community, but the reality of what we have to do is here,” said Mayor Dominick Longobardi.

Hookah bars and vape shops can now apply to open in Floral Park’s B3 commercial district, an area reserved for massage parlors, tattoo parlors and adult bookstores.

Before trustees voted, Floral Park police officers described the health risks of hookah smoke. Sgt. William Doherty said people who inhale the smoke from a hookah bong were taking in a “veritable periodic table” of nickel, lead, copper, uranium, and chromium.

“An hour of hookah smoking is like smoking a pack of cigarettes,” Doherty said.

Floral Park became interested in regulating hookah bars and vape shops a few years ago when a man submitted an application to open a vape shop on Jericho Turnpike in the village, Longobardi said, and village officials realized they had no law governing vape shops.

“The owner decided not to go through with it, which made us think about how we wanted to go through with these,” Longobardi said about future vape shop applications.

Vape shops sell e-cigarettes, devices that vaporize flavored liquid and often contain nicotine. The resulting smoke fumes contain fewer toxic substances than traditional cigarettes. E-cigarette sales began climbing on Long Island in 2014.

“And we also want to make sure it’s not close to our children,” he said.

Floral Park has no hookah bars or vape shops. The village placed a moratorium on hookah bar and vape shop applications more than a year ago. Village officials spent that time researching how other Long Island municipalities regulate hookah and vape establishments.

In April, the Town of Babylon banned vaping in public parks and barred vape shops and hookah bars from opening in business zones. Violators face fines of $50 to $250.

New Hyde Park, Massapequa Park, Glen Cove, Patchogue, and Port Jefferson have passed or considered laws regulating hookah bars and e-cigarette shops.

New York State banned sales of e-cigarettes to minors in 2013.

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