Oct. 6 will mark the one-year anniversary of Rockville Centre’s ban on hookah bars. To celebrate, the village board is considering a law to ban the sale of e-cigarettes as well.
It seems as if the village is turning Oct. 6 into an unofficial local holiday. Maybe we could call it Big Brother Knows Best Day, or perhaps Ignore the Free Market Day.
When hookah bars were banned, Trustee Michael Sepe stated that one of the main reasons was because people would spend hours inside, taking up parking that other businesses could use. That wasn’t true then, and doesn’t apply to e-cigarette stores now.
So what is it this time? The kids, of course. E-cigarettes, the village says, are marketed to the young because the fluid that you smoke out of them comes in a variety of sweet and fruity flavors.
But you need to be 19 to purchase an e-cigarette in Nassau County. So unless a store is breaking the law, kids aren’t getting them.
The point that we have repeatedly made to the board of trustees is that it should be up to the free market, not the board, to decide which businesses survive and which don’t. It’s the same argument we made when hookah bars were banned, and when the village outlawed other cab companies besides All-Island Taxi.
The attempt to ban e-cigarette stores is made more egregious by the fact that there’s already one operating in the village. Clean Vapor Rockville Centre received a stop-work order under the village’s hookah bar ban, and has been closed for weeks. A village spokesperson said that if the law is passed, the village “will review individual cases and determine whether enforcement is appropriate.” The legality of that seems questionable, at best.
Since the store isn’t currently open, it wouldn’t be grandfathered if the law were passed. That’s convenient for the village, which made the store cease operations by citing the hookah decree. Considering the fact that Clean Vapor doesn’t sell hookahs and doesn’t have a smoking lounge, it seems like the order was less about legality and more about making sure the business was shuttered when the e-cigarette law went into effect.