Turn Off That Cigarette
April 20th, 2011
Michael Mandelkern filed this post.
City Councilmember Peter Vallone, who represents Astoria, has proposed a local law to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors and prohibit anyone from smoking electronic cigarettes in certain public areas.
“People should start getting the word out there about these cigarettes,” Vallone said. “It’s absolutely not a healthy activity.”
Vallone has noticed tobacco shops in Astoria selling electronic cigarettes to minors, and although he is not sure how widespread sales are across the city he seeks to nip their availability to children in the bud. He has no qualms about adults who buy electronic cigarettes under the impression that they are safer than regular cigarettes, but he is concerned that the flavors, such as strawberry and vanilla, will entice youngsters to develop nicotine cravings before adulthood.
“There’s no reason for a child to smoke,” Vallone said. “We are trying to get out in front of the potential problem.”
Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices filled with nicotine or other chemicals that turn into vapor when lit by a heating element. The federal Food and Drug Administration has not conclusively determined whether they curb nicotine addiction.
Under Vallone’s bill, businesses caught selling the devices to minors three times within a two-year period could lose their cigarette license. First-time violators would receive a fine of up to $500, $1,000 for a second violation within two years and $2,000 if the offense is committed three times within that time frame.
First-time offenders caught smoking electronic cigarettes in banned places would receive an initial fine between $200 to $400, $500 to 1,000 for a second offense within 12 months and $1,000 to $2,000 the third time.
Several other council members are co-sponsoring the bill.
Vallone does not expect the full City Council to vote on the measure for at least five months, but said he is “sure other members will overwhelmingly support the bill.”By Gail Robinson on April 20, 2011, 1:28 pm
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