WESTFIELD, NJ — A small tobacco store on Elm Street may see a significant decline in competition if a proposed local law is approved next month.
The regulation the Board of Health is considering would ban the sale of vapes at gas stations, liquor stores and convenience stores. They are regulations the Westfield Health Department hopes to also have passed in the other seven municipalities it also serves.
“Even the regulated products, such as the Juul, have so much nicotine that that its equivalent to a pack of cigarettes,” said Westfield Regional Health Department Director Megan Avallone, in a presentation to the Fanwood Borough Council this week. “So these young individuals don’t even realize the amount of nicotine that they’re getting.”
The Westfield Board of Health re-introduced the regulations earlier this month and has set a public hearing on the proposed law for next month. Officials in New Providence, Mountainside, Garwood, Roselle Park and Chatham have either introduced or discussed the new regulations, Avallone said. While she did not discuss Summit specifically, Avallone said, the regional health department intends to have the regulations approved in all the municipalities it serves.
Westfield’s Board of Health is on board after introducing the regulation by a unanimous vote this month.
“This will specifically regulate the sale of electronic smoking devices in town, primarily to eliminate their use by children,” said Westfield Board of Health President Lawrence Budnick in a statement. “The proposed ordinance will be considered and voted on again at our Feb. 3 meeting, to which the Westfield community is invited.”
Budnick cited CDC findings that the use of the addicting nicotine products are rapidly rising among children.
They are dangers the state has also considered, with the governor’s approval this week of a ban on the sale of flavored vaping products. The law banning flavored vape products goes into effect this May.
If the more stringent regulation in Westfield passes, the two 7-Eleven stores in the municipality along with the Krauser’s Food Store would be among those prohibited from selling any vape products.
Hiren Parikh, manager of the 7-Eleven on South Avenue, however, said that the store already has a process in place for keeping the products away from youngsters. That process includes digitally scanning the identification of anyone who buys the products, Parikh said.
“Everyone, no matter what,” Parikh said. “Without that we cannot sell it, we cannot proceed without checking the ID.”
At Krauser’s Food Store on Central Avenue a sign in the storefront indicates the shop sells flavored vape products and an employee confirmed they offer the products. The store’s owner was not available for comment Friday.
At Westfield Tobacco & News a sign in the storefront states that anyone who enters the shop must be 21 years old and vapes are kept behind the counter.
Harry Houshyary, the shop’s owner, said he is unconcerned about the new regulations, noting that his store would not be banned from selling vapes. The shop would, however, have to pay a $1,000 licensing fee to continue its sale of such products, under the new regulations.
“Whatever they say, you have to do,” said Houshyary, who then added: “I’m sure they consider the whole situation.”
Click here to view the proposed ordinance.
The Westfield Board of Health is set to hold a public hearing on the proposed regulation at its next meeting Monday, Feb. 3, at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Conference room of the Westfield Municipal Building, 425 East Broad St.
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