The Babylon Town Board on Wednesday approved banning the use of e-cigarettes in public parks and also voted to limit stores that primarily sell such products to industrial areas of the town.
The town’s code banning smoking in town parks, recreation areas, playgrounds, pools and beaches will now also include “electronic cigarettes, vape pens, vapors, e-liquids, other legal marijuana derivatives or other substances.”
Using an e-cigarette or vaping involves the use of battery-powered devices that heat an often flavored liquid that can contain nicotine. Smoking from a hookah often involves using flavored tobacco.
At a public hearing on the proposed code changes, the only speaker was Troy Smit, deputy director of the state affiliate of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Smit said he was concerned that adding “legal marijuana derivatives” to the law would mean discrimination against those using medical marijuana.
“There are no other forms of medicine that are banned within the town that I’m aware of,” he told the board, adding that he believed the code amendments to be in violation of the Compassionate Care Act, which legalized medical marijuana in the state in 2014.
The town also approved banning vape shops and hookah lounges from opening in business-zoned areas, limiting them to industrial sections of town. All existing vape shops and hookah lounges would be grandfathered into the code. The town includes “legal marijuana derivatives” in this section of the code as well, leading Smit to wonder if medical marijuana dispensaries would be restricted from opening in the town. There are no dispensaries in the town.
“There’s a CVS on every corner,” he said in an interview after the hearing. “Ease of access to medicine is a very important part of using that medicine.”
Lindenhurst Village last year proposed a vape and hookah business ban that included medical marijuana businesses but after receiving opposition from medical marijuana advocates, officials removed medical marijuana from the new legislation.
Town Councilman Terence McSweeney said there will be designated areas in town parks and beaches, such as parking lots, where the code won’t be enforced.
“I definitely have sympathy for people who are on medical marijuana,” he said, noting that his wife qualifies for it. “But at the same time we have to protect everybody else’s rights as well.”
Violation of the new code can result in a fine of $50 to $250.