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Babylon Town holding hearings on e-cigarette ban proposal

Bottle of flavored liquid for electronic cigarettes in

Bottle of flavored liquid for electronic cigarettes in West Sayville. Credit: Ed Betz

The Town of Babylon on Wednesday will hold public hearings on proposals to ban e-cigarette use in public parks and to limit stores that primarily sell such products to industrial areas.

Town officials are proposing to add “electronic cigarettes, vape pens, vapors, e-liquids, other legal marijuana derivatives or other substances” to the section of its code prohibiting cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking at town parks, recreation areas, playgrounds, pools, and beaches.

The town is also proposing 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 in, town spokesman Kevin Bonner said.

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.

The town is one of several municipalities on Long Island that have moved to limit the proliferation of vape shops and hookah lounges.

Town councilman Terence McSweeney said vape shops “snuck up” on communities and leaders became concerned about their close proximity to schools. “This isn’t something I consider family friendly,” he said. McSweeney pointed to several vape shops which are across the street from schools.

“Subconsciously, over the years, a young child seeing it so frequently will think it’s OK since there’s a store dedicated to it,” McSweeney said.

Bonner pointed to one store in particular located just across Deer Park Avenue from John F. Kennedy Intermediate School in Deer Park. The store features a vaping blue genie in its window, nearly identical to the cartoon character featured in Disney’s “Aladdin.”

An employee at the store declined to comment on the proposed legislation or its sign. The store’s owner could not be located.

Bonner was not able to provide a total number of vape or hookah businesses but said there were a total of 18 vape and tobacco stores in the town.

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