BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Vape shops and smoke shops are now officially banned in all zones in Bernards Township, following the Township Committee's unanimous vote to enact the ban last week.

The new ban does not affect the sale of vaping products in other stores that already sell such items. Instead, the published ordinance prohibits shops with the primary business of selling tobacco and/or vaping products.

Township Committeeman John Carpenter noted that the township would not want a situation where students might be heading to the downtown after school, with a vape shop open for business.

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The Township Committee's vote was cast after the ban was first proposed at a meeting in October, and despite hearing a public suggestion at the meeting that the matter be delayed until 2020 for further consideration.

Resident Todd Edelstein noted that a proposal to ban medicinal marijuana dispensaries was examined more closely before officials ultimately decided it was not necessary at this time.

One of the reasons cited by the Township Committee in dropping the marijuana dispensary ban for now was that a state deadline to apply to establish a new dispensary had passed.

Edelstein pointed out that although 42 deaths have been attributed to vaping devices, some had been adulterated with other substances. He added that millions of people vape, and that some use the devices, which are legal, to quit smoking cigarettes.

Carpenter also noted that there are other types of business, such as tattoo shops, that the municipality would not like to see established locally.

It was also noted that township officials took time to consider that medicinal marijuana has received the endorsement of some members of the medical community.

A concern about the hazards of vaping, especially among young people, became a concern at both national and local levels following a number of deaths and respiratory problems linked to the practice. Other towns have already established a ban on vape shops, officials said in October.