U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Dec. 18 declared e-cigarette use among youth an epidemic in the United States. “Now is the time to take action,” Adams said. “We need to protect our young people from all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.”

Scarsdale is on the verge of taking action to restrict sales of both vape and gun products in the village with a zoning amendment.

The law committee sent the plan to the planning board for review on at least two recent occasions, and did so again Dec. 19. In the most recent version, a vape store will be able to set up shop in a commercial area, as long as it’s not within 1,000 feet of places of worship, the library or schools. Gun stores are restricted 250 feet from these same places.

The proposal has been under consideration in the village for about a year and a half, first in the law committee under chairman Trustee Carl Finger, who sought to make zoning changes to restrict gun stores. This past year, the law committee decided to add zoning restrictions for stores that sell electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), such as Juul products, which are commonly used for vaping.

The purpose of the zoning amendment was to keep gun and vape retail outlets away from buildings where children are coming and going.

At the planning board meeting Dec. 19, a lengthy discussion took place regarding the wording and framing of Scarsdale’s proposed amendment.

Planning board member Harold Porosoff expressed concerns about the logic behind the distances stipulated in the proposal.

“I support what they want to do here,” he said. “But we have to do this the right way and in a way that isn’t readily challengeable.”

Linda Doucette-Ashman, another planning board member, brought up the Freightway redevelopment project, and said there’s a possibility that site may be a target for these types of retail outlets in the future.

“We should remind [the trustees] about the Freightway development if it seems like that would be a zone [gun and vape vendors] can sell in,” she said.

The amendment would have an immediate impact on potential incoming retail stores selling guns or vape products — the business owners would have to abide by the 1,000-foot requirement. However, the three stores in town that currently sell vape products have a 12-month grace period in which they must get rid of vape-related inventory.

Finger said he hadn’t heard from the businesses but received overwhelmingly positive feedback from community members.

Executive Director of Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service Jay Genova applauded the village government’s efforts to add additional barriers between vaping products and the village’s youth.

In a previous law committee meeting, it was said teenagers may be getting their vape products in other towns.

Andy Shah, owner of Scarsdale’s Five Corners Stationery, echoed that sentiment. His business sells Juul products, but Shah said his customers for vape products are people 30 years and older, and he doesn’t sell the products to teenagers.

“[This amendment] won’t make a big difference,” Shah said. “The kids will get their vaping products somewhere else, like Hartsdale or New Rochelle.”

This particular village code change wouldn’t have a major impact on Shah’s business. He said he sells only two packs of vaping products each week.

Pending a public hearing, the law committee will continue to discuss the proposed amendment in public meetings.

Students and vaping

An informal poll of students conducted in spring of 2018 by the Scarsdale High School student government revealed among ninth- through 11th-graders, 17 percent of 808 respondents said they vape e-cigarettes or use Juul devices on a regular basis. Some  students may be using the devices as a vehicle for marijuana use, as 11.5 percent of the survey respondents reported vaping or Juuling has led them to use other drugs.

As the use of e-cigarettes is becoming more widespread, the Scarsdale Drug and Alcohol Task Force urges parents to talk to their children about the risks of vaping or Juuling.

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