BEDFORD HILLS, N.Y. – Earlier this month, the Bedford Town Board discussed possible restrictions on shops that sell what the federal government is calling Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, or ENDS.
Supervisor Chris Burdick was direct in what he ultimately wants the legislation to accomplish: “We don’t want them at all in the hamlets.” How to accomplish that, Burdick said, is what the board must determine.
“I think that we’re all, from a policy standpoint, pretty much in the same place—that we don’t want them sold in the hamlets,” Burdick said. “Maybe the thing to do is take a look at that and see what’s the best way of getting us there.”
Many laws, such as one passed in New Castle, prohibit vape shops from opening within a certain distance from schools, churches, parks or playgrounds. Burdick said that is an indirect way of banning vape shops from certain areas. Instead, he wondered whether Bedford could simply create a law that spells out where the shops are allowed.
Eric L. Gordon, an attorney with Keane & Beane, the town’s attorney, said a law limiting vape shops to one area could be “problematic” from a legal standpoint. The board can also not institute a complete ban on the shops, he said.
“It’s similar to a cabaret use, in that there has to be some alternative location for the vape shop,” Gordon said. “You can restrict them out of all residential zones and you can put certain geographical limitations on where they can be—how far from schools, how far from a residential zone. However, you have to do the analysis to determine whether those geographical restrictions eliminate the possibility of any vape shop being allowed in the town. There have to be some viable locations for them.”
Councilman Don Scott said the town should consider a law similar to New Castle’s, which prohibits vape shops from opening within 2,000 feet of a school and within 500 feet of a park, playground, library or religious institution.
“Doing 2,000 feet from a school pretty much eliminates the hamlet of Bedford village, Bedford Hills and Katonah, as they’re all within 2,000 feet of an elementary school, not to mention churches and daycare centers,” Scott said. “You could still have them on [Route] 117; you could probably have them on Adams Street.”
Vaping is a largely unregulated multibillion-dollar global industry that has grown in popularity for several reasons: The oils contain no tobacco (and are therefore viewed as healthier than cigarettes); leave behind no smoke, smell or litter; and are less expensive than cigarettes.
The oils (or e-liquids) that fill the vaporizers are sold separately from the devices and come in thousands of flavors, a reason for its popularity among teenagers. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 11 percent of high school students and 4.3 percent of middle school students use some form of ENDS.
Vaporizers are often seen as an option for people looking to cut back on nicotine but still satisfy an oral fixation. The liquids contain varying levels of nicotine (usually between 3 and 24 milligrams). They can also be purchased without nicotine. The liquid is heated into an aerosol that the user inhales, according to the FDA.
The liquids do not contain any tobacco, yet are considered a tobacco product by the FDA, meaning they are held to the same regulations as cigarettes. Whether they are more or less safe, however, depends on which study you read. In June 2016, the FDA extended its authority to cover all tobacco products, including vaporizers and the like. The FDA now regulates the manufacture, import, packaging, labeling, advertising, promotion, sale and distribution of ENDS.
Beginning Aug. 10, all products must bear the label: “WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.” If the oils do not contain nicotine, they will instead be labeled: “This product is made from tobacco.”
Burdick said the town will continue looking into potential restrictions and will involve the code enforcement officer and the building inspector in the conversation.