WESTFIELD, NJ – The town's Board of Health is considering a vaping regulation modeled after a similar ordinance Morristown adopted last May.
The smoking of e-cigarettes and vaping have become hot button issues in Westfield and the surrounding communities. The Board of Health would like to try and address this issue by modeling its ordinance after the specific language contained in the Morristown vaping ordinance.
Westfield Regional Department of Health Director Megan Avallone has obtained a copy of Morristown's ordinance that governs how local businesses can sell the products and to whom they can sell them.
The language in the Morristown ordinance points out that the surgeon general warns, “such devices pose a significant health risk to youth and young adults.”
The next step, officials said at the Monday meeting, will be for members of the board of health to write to Avallone with suggestions for modifying the Morristown ordinance for Westfield.
At the meeting, the board voted to decide to cancel the September meeting so the changes, which are being requested by the board from each member individually, will be ready prior to the next meeting in October.
Vaping is defined as the inhaling or exhaling of the vapor produced by an e-cigarette.
Some of the most common side effects of vaping are dry mouth, nausea and coughing but it can also have serious implications for the brain and for the lungs partly due to the chemicals including nicotine contained in the e-cigarette.
Officials explained that it was important to get an ordinance on the books, which would look out for the safety of the children and teenagers of Westfield.
“The goal of the ordinance is to have greater control and to limit the sales so that children can't access these products," said Lawrence Budnick, president of the Board of Health.
“It has developed over the last few years,” Budnick said of the spread and increasing trending use of vaping and e-cigarette He said the hot had been raised at the Westfield Board of Education as well.
“Kids are starting younger and younger,” he said of the use of e-cigarettes and vaping, adding middle school children also now are known to use these devices. “If we could stop the middle schoolers and the ninth-graders from starting this [habit] that would be a victory.”
While the board is now officially addressing the ordinance, the first and second readings of the draft likely won't happen until later in later this year at the earliest, officials said.
At the time that the board is considering this ordinance, there have been several incidents of violations in the borough with stores that sell these products. While the incidents were alluded to at the meeting, the specifics of each one were not available as of this writing.
The Morristown ordinance prohibits that these products are not to be sold to anybody under 21 and it lays out penalties for violators. A person interested in buying must present photo identification at the store as well.
The ordinance states that according to the FDA, electronic smoking use increased 78% among high school children from 2017 to 2018 and 48 percent amongst middle school children. According to the ordinance, only retail electronic smoking device establishments licensed by the Town Division of Health shall sell electronic smoking devices.
It is not allowed for a business that holds a retail food establishment license from the Town Department of Health and a license for sale of motor fuel from the state of New Jersey and/or a liquor license issued by NJ, to sell and/or manufacture electronic smoking devices.
Businesses shall have 60 days to comply with the passage of this chapter, according to the Morristown ordinance. This 60-day turn around time would be different depending on if and when Westfield adopts their version of this ordinance. However, with that being said, in certain circumstances, it sounds as it may still be sellable.
There is a very particular age restriction. For example, if somebody is under 21, that individual can't enter into any portion of a retail electronic smoking device establishment.
There is an exception to this rule, which involves the sale through face-to-face interactions. It stipulates that it is the duty of the establishment to make sure that they check on the individual customer to comply. There is also a chapter that explains the expectations for the posting of age restriction signage for these products.
The penalties for a person selling these products to a person under 21 are a penalty for up to $2,000 and may be subject to a license suspension or revocation. There are several other portions of the ordinance with financial penalty stipulations.
“Those persons or establishments are subject to prosecution,” the ordinance states.
The next meeting of the Board of Health is Oct. 7 at 5 p.m.