To the Editor:

The Westfield Board of Health met on Feb. 3.

In response to the recognized dangers to children of using electronic smoking devices (ESDs), the Board unanimously passed Ordinance #1-2020 to specifically regulate the sale of these devices in town. The new ordinance, now Chapter 8 of the Board of Health Code and available on the Westfield Regional Health Department website https://www.westfieldnj.gov/health, includes the following:

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1)  Only retail ESD establishments licensed by the Board of Health shall sell such devices and its components.

2)  No retail establishment shall sell ESDs or its components if the business also holds a retail food, motor oil or liquor license.

  1.    No one under the age of 21 is allowed entry into or may be employed in a retail ESD establishment.
  2.    No person shall sell, distribute or give an ESD or its components to any person under the age of 21 years.
  3.    No new retail ESD establishment shall be located within 500 feet of any school or public recreational facility.
  4.    A retail ESD may not distribute any samples of ESDs or its components.
  5.    The new ordinance will take effect in late April.

One restaurant had its fourth rating of conditionally satisfactory in less than 3 years and was the subject of a Board Hearing. The restaurant’s owner stated that he would improve supervisory procedures and implement changes. A 4-day suspension of the food license was held in abeyance and shall be implemented for any rating less than satisfactory during the next 2 years. The restaurant was satisfactory on reinspection.

The Board discussed the emergence of 2019 novel coronavirus and the preparations underway. The Health Department will follow the guidance of the NJ Department of Health. Since coronavirus infection can mimic influenza, which is widespread in the state, we urge all residents to be vaccinated against the flu. Good health habits, like covering your cough, washing your hands and staying home from school or work when sick, can also help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses. Residents can find information on coronavirus, influenza and local flu vaccination sites at the health department’s website https://www.westfieldnj.gov/health in the Health Promotion tab.

A few community members expressed their opinions about the Board’s efforts to best protect children from communicable vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines have been remarkably effective in lessening infectious diseases and deaths and have even eradicated diseases. Therefore, the Board and the Health Department will continue to pursue and promote science-based vaccination policies, including school-based vaccination requirements for children.

The Board also honored Thomas K. O’Neill, a 19-year member and former President and Vice President of the Board of Health, for his dedication and work on behalf of the town.

Information about all the Health Department’s activities, including helpful health-related advice and recommendations, such as concerning e-cigarettes and gun safety, and free education programs is available at https://www.westfieldnj.gov/health. Recent topics in the department’s monthly newsletter, Your Health Matters, include heart disease prevention, teen dating violence prevention and dental health. It is available on the department’s website in the February Newsletter tab. You can sign up to receive Health Department information through https://www.westfieldnj.gov/townupdates.

The complete minutes of the February 3 meeting will be posted after review and approval at our March 2 meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building. The public is invited to attend.

Lawrence D. Budnick, MD, MPH
President, Westfield Board of Health
Westfield, NJ