Even as Bedford quietly enacted some of the state’s strictest restrictions on e-cigarette sales last week, the nationwide outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses was prompting high-volume action by governments at every level.
At least eight people in seven states had died by week’s end and more than 500 were being treated for serious lung ailments. At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, public health officials acknowledged that “we do not yet know the specific cause [of the illnesses].”
In New York, health officials imposed a statewide 90-day ban on the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes. Albany’s action, on Sept.17, came the same day Bedford officially put a stop—for the second time—to vape shops almost anywhere in town.
The Town Board adopted its first ban, similar in scope to the new law, last May. But even before year’s end it was in legal limbo as five vape shops, already selling the products, sued to stop enforcement. In a negotiated settlement, those shops, two of them in Katonah, were permitted to continue their sales. Otherwise, e-cigarette retailing will be limited to Route 117’s commercial strip in Bedford Hills.
In back-to-back public hearings, no one spoke, pro or con, on repeal of the original law or enactment of the second. But after the separate votes, Sally Corbett-Turco, a member of the Bedford Drug Abuse Prevention Council, commended the board “for everything it does to restrict the sale of vaping products in this town.”
“We know that vaping is a gateway to other drugs, especially for young people, whose brains are developing,” said Corbett-Turco, who is also executive director of Stepping Stones, the onetime Katonah home-turned-museum of Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson and his wife.
She told the board, “We just want you to know we are in full support of anything and everything you are doing to create restrictions on vape-related businesses in this town.”
Before the vote, Town Attorney Eric Gordon called the proposed replacement law a good compromise, saying that “in a way” it was more restrictive than the state’s temporary ban since it sharply limits the sale of all vaping products, not simply flavored ones.
Moreover, while the new law allows sales to continue at the five existing vape shops, Gordon said, “The law would also further restrict the sale of these products if any of these entities discontinued sales for a period of more than six months. That location would no longer be permitted to sell any vape products.”