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Lindenhurst moves to ban e-cigarette stores, hookah lounges

A vape shop pictured on March 27, 2016.

A vape shop pictured on March 27, 2016. Lindenhurst Village officials, seeking a ban on e-cigarette stores, hookah lounges and medical marijuana dispensaries, will hold a public hearing on the proposal on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, at Village Hall. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Lindenhurst Village officials are proposing a ban on all e-cigarette stores, hookah lounges and medical marijuana dispensaries.

A public hearing on the proposed law will be held Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. at Village Hall.

The ban targets e-cigarette businesses, called vape stores, but includes any “business operation, whether as its primary use or as an ancillary use, [that] includes the smoking or selling of vapors, e-liquids, or other substances that are smoked through an electronic cigarette.” The proposed law also bans any business that has the “smoking of tobacco or other substances” through hookah pipes and any business that has “smoking, or selling of medicinal marijuana, synthetic marijuana, or cannabis substitutes, or related products.”

Vaping involves the use of battery-powered devices that heat a liquid that typically contains nicotine. Inhaling and exhaling from the device creates a vapor.

“Here we are trying to set up a workable downtown,” Mayor Mike Lavorata said. “I don’t think these are the kinds of places we want to have there.” A vape store, he said, “just gives a less-than-family-friendly impression.”

Lindenhurst has two vape stores but no hookah or medical marijuana businesses. The stores will be grandfathered in under the new law, Lavorata said. Long Island has two medical marijuana dispensaries, in New Hyde Park and Riverhead, and has been approved for four more undisclosed sites.

In July, the village board voted to make permanent a 2016 moratorium on new vape, hookah and marijuana businesses, but in a work session that followed, the village attorney told the board that it must create a law and hold a public hearing. The board then rescinded the resolution.

Lavorata said gas stations and convenience stores will not be targeted because e-cigarettes are a small part of their business. Hookah bars and medical marijuana dispensaries are included in the ban, he said, because they’re not “family-related behavior.”

“We have enough bad habits, I don’t want to encourage any more,” he said.

Workers at the village’s vape stores said vaping is helping many residents quit the more dangerous habit of smoking.

“If they’re trying to make it a more family-friendly environment, don’t attack the businesses that are trying to do right and trying to help people, like the parents and business owners,” said Tina Roy, who works at Dapper Vapor on 40th Street. “If they’re that concerned about making things family-friendly, leave the hardworking people alone and go after the bigger problems.”

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