MONTVILLE, NJ – Those under 21 will no longer be able to purchase cigarettes or vaping items in Montville Township if a proposed ordinance change passes. Current New Jersey law is set at age 19, but Montville Township Health officer Aimee Puluso brought Board of Health proposals to the Aug. 16 Township Committee meeting which involved changing the age.

Further proposed changes include a 50-foot buffer zone surrounding any vaping establishment or tobacco retail business that opens in the township, to prevent sampling of product directly inside the business or near it.

“We decided at the July 11 Board of Health meeting that it would be best to amend the ordinances ahead of the curve before businesses start coming here and operating and maybe getting ‘grandfathered’ in from certain requirements,” Puluso said.

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She noted that vape shops are increasing in number.

Changes to the proposed ordinances included updating language, such as defining electronic smoking. The indoor public places verbiage from the NJ Smoke-Free Air Act was also added.

She stated parts of the proposed ordinance were modeled after state laws and others were not.

Puluso said the proposed ordinance is a health issue.

“Studies have shown that the majority of people who take up a life-long habit, start smoking between the ages of 18 and 21, and a reduction in the number of life-long smokers is a reduction in the number of serious illness, including cancer, emphysema, COPD, which is in the interest of public health, which we have to promote,” she said.

Puluso said she did not know of any towns who had a buffer of 50 feet.

Dog Park Discussed

Puluso also brought the Dog Park ordinance to the Aug. 16 Township Committee meeting, and said the Board of Health discussed changes to the Dog Park rules because they noticed there was a discrepancy between what was given out in the brochure and what is in the ordinances.

“Our ordinances do not support revoking a dog membership in the park in the event of an unprovoked bite of another dog or a person,” Puluso said. “If push comes to shove, if they do have a bite incident at the park, legally, if we say, ‘we’re going to remove your membership from the park because that’s the park rules,’ the ordinance does not support that.”

The Board of Health proposes to change the language so that upon receipt of a formal written documentation, “any dog that has bitten or has shown aggressive behavior towards a person or another dog on the premises of the Dog Park may, at the discretion of the Health Officer, result in an immediate and permanent revocation of Dog Park membership.”

“It would have to be reviewed by the health officer and/or the Board of Health if it should come to that, so that we can ensure that any dog that is removed from membership has really been reviewed carefully,” Puluso said.

She said the Dog Park Committee and Board of Health had reviewed and approved the changes.

Committee Member Deb Nielson noted that the wording of the proposed changes includes changing the definition of the small dog park from 25 pounds to 35 pounds, an issue which resulted in a split vote at the Dog Park Committee meeting.

Pending legal counsel approval, the ordinances will be introduced for public hearing in September.

The proposed changes to the Tobacco ordinance can be viewed here: Tobacco

The proposed changes to the Dog Park ordinance can be viewed here: Dog Park

The next Township Committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 8:00 p.m.