New rules for hookah bars and electronic cigarette stores are officially on the books in New Hyde Park.
After hearing feedback from the Nassau County Planning Commission, the village Board of Trustees on June 9 adopted the law classifying the establishments as “adult uses” and restricting them to industrial business zones.
“It seems to fall in line with the section of law where we put it. It’s an adult use,” village Deputy Mayor Lawrence Montreuil said. “It’s not something that we want children exposed to.”
The law, first proposed in March and discussed at a public hearing in April, adds hookah bars and “vape shops” to an existing list of 11 adult uses in the code that also includes head shops, peep shows and adult bookstores.
That means businesses selling electronic cigarettes or where tobacco is smoked through hookah pipes can operate in industrial zones with a village special-use permit, but cannot be within 2,000 feet of each other or within 800 feet of a school, church, park, playground, playing field or public library.
The village decided not to follow the county Planning Commission’s suggestions because “it didn’t seem that they (the commission) had a good grasp on our law,” Montreuil said. For instance, he said, the commission said the law should include a clause grandfathering in existing vape shops and hookah bars, but none exist in the village.
New Hyde Park is one of three North Shore municipalities to approve hookah and vape regulations this month.
Williston Park’s Village Board approved a law Monday banning any business that profits from smoking on the premises, Mayor Paul Ehrbar said. Mineola’s Village Board also restricted vape shops to industrial zones after approving similar rules for hookah bars in December.
The rules come as the federal Food and Drug Administration prepares to apply its stricter regulations for tobacco cigarettes to hookah products and electronic cigarettes, through which the user inhales a water-based vapor containing small amounts of nicotine.
Some studies, though, indicate electronic cigarettes can be effective in helping people quit smoking tobacco cigarettes, which contain harmful chemicals not found in electronic cigarette vapor.
Anthony Gabriel, owner of Cherry Valley Vape in West Hempstead, told New Hyde Park trustees in April that electronic cigarettes helped him quit smoking tobacco after 12 years.
But Montreuil and Ehrbar said they have seen conflicting data on whether the devices help or hurt. Montreuil said he has heard they can be a gateway to tobacco, especially for teens.
“I’m not a doctor, I’m not participating in any studies,” Ehrbar said. “I just believe for the Village of Williston Park it was the right way to go.”