Vapes and e-cigarette retailers throughout the Town of Hempstead would have to post large signs about the devices’ dangers to consumers, in a conspicuous location at their place of business, if a proposal by Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney of Wantagh and Councilman Dennis Dunne of Levittown is approved.
The Hempstead Town Board will hold a public hearing to consider the proposed legislation on Thursday, September 20 at 10:30am.
The local law would create a new subsection of Chapter 12 of the Town Code and would impose fines of between $250 and $1,000 on merchants that don’t comply with the signage requirements. Large, “clearly visible” signs would be required for retail sale of electronic aerosol delivery systems (vapes), which would alert consumers that these products contain dangerous chemicals.
Town supervisor Laura Gillen called the proposal a “very necessary and common-sense piece of legislation in order to protect our residents.”
“I fully support any laws that protect our children from starting habits that could negatively impact them for the rest of their lives,” she said.
Councilman Dunne said the new legislation is part of a multi-prong approach to address concerns about e-cigarette/vape use in teens.
“One of the concerns I have heard consistently, is that the teens who are using vape products have no idea that they contain nicotine, which is addictive,” said Dunne. “This legislation is designed to correct this misapprehension that vaping is not hazardous to your health.”
E-cigarettes, more commonly referred to as vapes, are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid — usually containing nicotine mixed with the chemicals propylene glycol and glycerin, and often flavorings ranging from bubble gum to watermelon — into a vapor that users can inhale. They deliver nicotine, a highly addictive drug, to the body without producing any smoke.
“Public awareness has significantly decreased the use of traditional cigarettes and I am confident that this new legislation will help achieve that same goal with e-cigarettes,” said King Sweeney.
Between 2011 and 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General found e-cigarette use among high school students increased by 900 percent, with more teens now using e-cigarettes than cigarettes.
A release put out by Dunne and King Sweeney stated that “E-cigarette or “Vape” companies intentionally market products that are attractive to young people by having fun flavors and making them appear like a flash drive or pen that can easily be hidden from parents and school officials.”
A 2016 U.S. Surgeon General report on E-cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults found that flavors in e-cigarettes are one of the main reasons youth use them.
In 2009, the FDA found detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals, including an ingredient used in anti-freeze, in two leading brands of e-cigarettes and 18 different cartridges. Early studies have also revealed that when propylene glycol or glycerin are heated and vaporized, they can degrade into formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Both of these chemicals are considered carcinogens.
The Surgeon General concluded that e-cigarette use among youth is now a significant public health concern and steps must be taken by parents, educators and especially policymakers to discourage use of e-cigarettes.
The signage that Dunne and King Sweeney are proposing would include these words:
“’WARNING: VAPE PRODUCTS CONTAIN NICOTINE. NICOTINE IS AN ADDICTIVE CHEMICAL’ – U.S. Food and Drug Administration ‘VAPING CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH’- U.S. Surgeon General. Posted by order of the Town of Hempstead Board.”
Dunne said his “sincerest hope is that once these kids see, in black and white, that these products are dangerous to their health, they will think twice before purchasing them.”