Town Of Bethlehem Considering Extension Of Moratorium On Vape Shops As Well
Throughout much of the United States, and much of the world for that matter, our shared circumstances have created the concept of a “new normal” that represents a fundamental upheaval to the established ways of life. While there are a number of public health and other priorities that are more pressing to attend to during these trying times, lawmakers in one Upstate New York town are choosing to use this time to advance their agendas instead.
The Town Board of Bethlehem is set to take comments and input from the community on a series of vaping-related measures during two separate upcoming public hearings. These measures pertain to a proposed licensing system for stores selling non-therapeutic nicotine products, as well as an extension to the current moratorium on vape shops in the town.
The licensing system was proposed as a way to help better regulate vape shops and tobacco retailers, potentially reducing youth access to vapor products. The licensing system would go into effect in late 2020, and all state-registered tobacco and vapor retailers would need to apply for a license from the town itself as well.
Additionally, the town is considering an additional extension of a moratorium on new vape shops as well. Implemented back in June 2019, the original six-month moratorium was extended for an additional six-months in September and is set to expire in late June.
Supporters of the measures believe that additional regulations are the only effective way to prevent teenage vaping. Critics state that vape shops are being systematically targeted by officials and that amid a pandemic and prospective economic depression, imposing additional regulatory and financial burdens on already-struggling small businesses is not the best move.
Vape Shop Regulations
In Upstate New York, the Town Board of Bethlehem voted unanimously to hold a series of public hearings before a final vote on a pair of vaping-related measures. The board is considering an additional extension of a moratorium on vape shops, as well as the implementation of a licensing system for nicotine-product retailers within the town.
In June 2019, a halt on the “submission and processing of applications for building permits, certificates of occupancy, and land use approvals for vape shops, smoke shops and the sale of marijuana or marijuana products, or the dispensing or distribution of medical marijuana” was implemented in the town. Initially set to last six months, it was given a six-month extension in December and is currently set to expire on June 26th.
The proposed licensing system would require retailers to visibly display the license on their premises. The proposal would also include a restriction on sales of vapor products within 1000 feet of schools, but notably contains no such provision for the sales of tobacco products. The ultimate goal of the licensing system is to reduce the number of issued licenses over time by only granting one new license for every two licenses that do not get renewed from the previous year.
Town Board member Jim Foster expressed his own reservations about the proposals. “We’re proposing ongoing fees that is a burden on our local businesses, regardless of where they’re located, no matter how far from a school,” he stated, “I’m kind of concerned as I don’t want to put an additional burden on our already strained businesses. … I would argue that we should effectively eat the administrative costs in administering the program of our own creation.”
Supporters of the measures have stated both the moratorium and planned licensing system will help the town better regulate nicotine-product retailers. As a result, they believe, they will successfully be able to reduce youth access to vapor products.
Truth About Vaping
Despite often repeated and overblown claims of youth vaping, a study from the NYU School of Global Public Health discovered that most teens aren’t actually vapers. The study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, found that over 85% of teens do not vape at all, and the few that vape do not do so regularly.
Current data indicates as little as 3% of smokers can successfully quit without the use of a cessation aid. Research published in the British Medical Journal found that vaping was more than twice as effective in successfully aiding cessation than any other method tested.
In addition to being a remarkably effective cessation aid, there is a wealth of data noting the reduced harm vaping poses compared to smoking as well. Research published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences found that vapers face a staggering 57,000 times lower risk of developing cancer in their lifetime compared to smokers.
Not only does vaping continue to be demonstrated as an effective smoking cessation aid and reduced harm alternative to smoking, but evidence indicates that there is no risk of harm from long-term usage as well. A study published by the National Academy of Sciences found that not only is vaping significantly less harmful than smoking, but there are currently no known long-term health effects associated with prolonged usage, meaning lifetime vapers can breathe a sigh of relief.
Future Of Vaping
Bethlehem’s vaping proposals represent the epitome of misguided morality and government overreach. While small businesses are floundering following the fallout caused by the coronavirus crisis, lawmakers continue to impose regulatory burdens rather than offer assistance during such trying times.
The area’s current vapers and vape shops must stand in solidarity against the proposals at the upcoming public hearings. A strong outpouring of public support from the community represents the best effort and standing against a vocal minority who have no understanding of what vaping even is from restricting it further.
What are your thoughts regarding Bethlehem’s moratorium and proposed licensing system? Do you believe both measures create an undue burden on small businesses during an economic depression? Let us know what you think in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
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