Philipstown: No Vape Shops for 6 Months

Few attendees but strong sentiments at public hearing

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

Philipstown’s Town Board on Wednesday (June 20) unanimously adopted a six-month moratorium on vape shops.

The vote followed a public hearing that drew few attendees but strong anti-vaping comments from those who came. It also occurred two weeks after board members proposed the moratorium, which halts submission of vape shop applications.

The moratorium took effect immediately. Board members plan to use the half-year hiatus to write a permanent law.

Councilor Nancy Montgomery said children and teenagers are increasingly using vaping devices or electronic cigarettes, which can contain nicotine or other harmful substances along with alluring flavors.

“There’s no regulation” of the ingredients, she said. “Prohibiting businesses is not something we’re in the business of doing, but we would like to limit harmful things” that might be sold in town.

While the number of high school students in New York who smoke tobacco cigarettes has plummeted, the percentage who vape has doubled. (File photo)

Nonetheless, she cautioned that “we have to be very careful as we look at this, to see what we’re allowed to do,” such as possibly “limiting where vape shops can be.”

Supervisor Richard Shea expressed hopes that with the right law, vape shops “can essentially be zoned out of existence.”

Councilor Robert Flaherty raised the issue of e-cig and vape product sales by gas stations and convenience stores. Board members informally agreed they must explore that aspect of the issue, too.

Marianne Sullivan, a Garrison resident and professor of public health at William Paterson University, encouraged the board to adopt the moratorium. “I hope we have a permanent moratorium,” she said. “It’s our responsibility to keep vape products out of the hands of youth.”

The federal government seems unlikely to act, she said, because the Trump administration “has signaled friendliness to the vaping industry.”

Sullivan said one risk of vaping by young people is that it can lead to the use of traditional cigarettes. “Tobacco is the No. 1 public health problem” and a leading cause of death, she said. Teenagers who unwittingly consume nicotine while vaping “can develop an addiction very quickly,” she said.

Although smoking of traditional cigarettes has declined, Philipstown resident Priscilla Goldfarb wondered if “people are stopping smoking and moving over to vaping. How would having a vape shop in town improve the quality of our life here?”

John Cronin, a Cold Spring resident and senior fellow for environmental affairs at Pace University, urged the board to also focus on access to tobacco by minors. “I’m more concerned about kids buying tobacco than alcohol,” he said.

New York and three other states allow  minors to legally purchase and/or possess tobacco; it is only illegal for merchants to sell it to them. That means that “only one-half of the transaction is illegal,” he said, and that a 10-year-old can smoke a cigar without violating any law.

He called on municipalities to take action. “The revolution in controlling tobacco is town by town.”

Montgomery agreed. “We can’t wait for other levels of government to do what we need to do,” she said.

4 thoughts on “Philipstown: No Vape Shops for 6 Months

  1. Will that help with all the “blunt” wrappers I find on the sides of the streets everywhere? Doubt it!

  2. And they wonder why there’s an opioid crisis.

    Before he died from a drug overdose, my nephew told me everything there is to know about drug use in our community. (That would be Putnam Valley and Philipstown).

    I don’t know how many do-gooders realize that they have made it easier and cheaper for the kids to buy heroin and illegal drugs than it is for them to get cigarettes and alcohol. It’s true. Thanks to the mass hysteria about tobacco and all of the sin taxes that have been placed on cigarettes, it’s possible for our kids to buy a nickel bag of heroin with less trouble than going to the local deli and trying to buy a pack of cigarettes or a can of beer.

    All the laws, rules and regulations in the world are never going to stop people, especially young people, from experimenting with drugs and trying to get high. It’s part of human nature and has been going on for thousands of years.

    Years ago when we Baby Boomers were growing up, our first experiments were with cigarettes and beer, which were easily available, even if we had to get one of the older kids buy them for us. It would never have occurred to us to try heroin or anything stronger. And guess what? The vast majority of us did not become alcoholics or drug addicts! Of course some did, a certain percentage no doubt became addicts, but nothing like the epidemic we have now.

    Beer and cigarettes are regulated by the government. We know what’s in them. We know they don’t contain poisons or other deadly substances that are found in street drugs. The reason my nephew died was because by the time he was an adult, he was already hooked on the easy to get, unregulated street drugs, including heroin. By the time he got his overdose, it was too late.

    I am not advocating to legalize heroin, cocaine or even recreational marijuana. What I’m saying is that the regulators, including the town board, have gone to far in their uninformed zeal to do the impossible. You will never stop kids from experimenting with drugs. When you remove legal alternatives from the equation, you are giving them a potential death sentence.

  3. I think the lawmakers in Philipstown and even other townships tend to forget where they came from, and the things they did as youngsters. They seem to be trying, as grandparents do, to relive the parenting rules-and-regulation experience. Too much governing, and too many laws, make me uneasy. Good intentions? Possibly. Good intentions can lead sheep to slaughter. Don’t be a sheep. Less can be better.