E-cigarettes may soon be prohibited anywhere in Rockland County where traditional smoking is banned.
County lawmakers held a public hearing Tuesday night to discuss whether to expand the county’s smoking restrictions to treat electronic cigarettes like traditional tobacco products. Westchester County made a similar move in June.
Legislator Aney Paul, D-Nanuet, who proposed the bill, said she’s alarmed by chemicals contained in the small, battery-powered vaporizers as well a dramatic increase in young people using e-cigarettes, or “vaping.”
“It’s dangerous for the kids,” said Paul, a nurse practitioner. “And it’s an environmental hazard.”
E-cigarettes have grown in popularity in recent years. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the number of teens who “vape” — inhaling the vapors created by heating liquid nicotine — tripled between 2013 and 2014.
Some smokers use e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking tobacco.
The bill would ban e-cigarettes in many of the areas already covered by the state’s 2003 Clean Indoor Air Act, including offices, restaurants, schools, sports facilities and county government buildings.
Violators of the ban could face $150 in fines for a first violation and $300 for each subsequent violation.
New York already bans sales of e-cigarettes to people under 18.
Katie Ruiz, a manager at Cloud99 Vapes in Nanuet, bristled at the proposed regulations, calling them “absurd.”
“They are two completely different things,” she said of the smokeless, odorless alternative to traditional lit cigarettes.
“We have people coming in every day who have been smoking for 20 or 40 years,” she said. “They’re able to quit because they vape.”