BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ The Bernards Township Committee has directed its attorney to draft a ban on vape shops, or stores that primarily sell vaping products, in the near future.

An ordinance banning vape shops, which Township Attorney John Belardo said he is fairly confident could stand up in court, would not prevent the sale of vaping products at existing supermarkets and convenience stores, where such are already for sale.

A concern about the hazards of vaping, especially among young people, has been a concern at both national and local levels, with a number of deaths and respiratory problems linked to the practice.

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The subject was raised when, previously, the Township Committee had considered whether to implement local zoning regarding medicinal marijuana dispensaries.

Ultimately a majority voted against to taking action at this time, partially because a deadline already had passed for applications for new dispensaries seeking to open throughout New Jersey.

Mayor Carol Bianchi said she would like to see a proposal possibly by the next Township Committee meeting, scheduled for Oct. 29. 

"I am not seeking to regulate adult behavior," Bianchi said, noting that laws already exist that prohibit youths from purchasing tobacco products.

However, Bianchi said she would like to see the township take the opportunity to ban the shops in the township. "We can't stop kids from getting [vaping products], but we can have laws in place. That's the best we can do."

Belardo said that Chatham Township is among the municipalities that already have banned vape shops. Committee members at the meeting were unanimously in favor of coming up with a draft ordinance for the ban. 

"It's a problem for our kids," said Township Committeewoman Joan Harris. "Kids in middle school and the high school are vaping."

Township Committeeman John Carpenter added that while vaping remains legal, the township does not want to have a vape shop opening and hanging up its sign in business areas. Carpenter said he feels that local downtown areas might be more "vulnerable" to such a business moving in, following competition to merchants first from malls and, more recently, from online sales.

Following the discussion, Belardo said he would get back to the Township Committee "shortly."