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Nassau legislative committees approve vaping limits

Nassau County legislative committees on Monday approved a bill requiring retailers to keep e-cigarettes and other vaping products behind the counter in an effort to discourage young people from using the popular products.

The bill passed both the Rules and Health and Social Services Committees by 7-0 margins.

Sellers would be fined for not keeping the products behind the counter and away from candy and toys. “Point-of sale” advertising for the products also would be limited.

The bill was sponsored by the Republican majority caucus and is backed by County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat. It must be approved by the full legislature, which meets next on July 9.

The liquid used with e-cigarettes comes in sweet flavors, such as cotton candy and gummy bear. Buyers of tobacco products must be at least 21 years old in Nassau.

Legis. Rose Marie Walker (R-Hicksville) said during a hearing Monday that the advertising can be “very enticing because it does look like it’s fun for kids, so it entices young children to want to purchase it.”

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2 million middle and high school students in the U.S. had used e-cigarettes in 2016 during the previous 30 days. That represented 4.3 percent of students in middle school and 11.3 percent of high school students.

Also Monday, the Rules Committee voted 7-0 for a bill authorizing the county to develop a website dedicated to bullying prevention and awareness.

The website would include resources for those who are bullied, and include definitions of bullying and signs that someone is being bullied or is a bully. The site also would include resources for young people who are bullied on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.

The bill was sponsored by Legis. Joshua Lafazan of Woodbury, who has no party affiliation and caucuses with Democrats.

Joe Salamone, executive director of the Long Island Coalition Against Bullying, said in years past “there was no spotlight on the issue at all.”

Salamone said, “many, many families still look for information that often is not always readily accessible to them. Kids are still reluctant to come forward about their struggles, and parents are still unaware of what to look out for, or what to do until it becomes unmistakably clear and they are already knee-deep in it. ”

Also Monday, the Rules committee approved a bill sponsored by Legis. Laura Schaefer (R-Westbury), aimed at better publicizing the county’s 24/7 behavioral health helpline.

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