Village Adopts Law To Restrict Hookah Bars And Vape Shops

Officer John Groshans addressing the village board about the dangers of e-cigarettes. (Photos courtesy of the Village of Floral Park)

At the most recent village board meeting in Floral Park, the board of trustees adopted a local law that would restrict the location of hookah bars and vape shops—categorizing them as an adult usage. The board unanimously passed the local law in a 5-0 vote.

Local Law #2 of 2018 would relegate potential hookah bars and vape shops to the village’s B-3 business district. The hookah bars and vape shops can also not be within a 250-foot radius of any area that is zoned for residential areas, schools, churches, parks, playgrounds or playing fields.

Prior to the passage of this local law, these types of establishments theoretically could have been established in any of the village’s business districts, subject only to the village’s special use requirements. The village board said that they remain concerned with the potential dangers that are posed by vaping and will continue to explore other appropriate restrictions that may be placed on such establishments within the village.

On hand at the board meeting were Sergeant William Doherty and Officer John Groshans from the Floral Park Police Department who presented an in-depth overview of the dangers of the use of vaping and hookah lounges.

Hookah bars and vape shops would be restricted to the village’s B3 district under the new adopted law.

“Hookahs basically look like big elaborate bongs,” said Doherty. “They heat water with charcoal as a heating element, which sends a flavored vape through a long tube, which people suck on. People will sit in groups at hookah bars and socialize and smoke.”

Doherty explained that there is a danger in sharing hookah and its mouthpiece since people can carry different types of diseases. Citing research from the Center of Disease Control (CDC), Doherty said that the smoke that one would inhale is 100 to 200 times as much smoke you’d receive from a cigarette.

“You get more tar nicotine through the hookah smoke then you do from a cigarette,” he said. “An hour of hookah smoke is like smoking a pack of cigarettes. It’s not something we want our young people in the village to be attracted to.”

In regards to vaping, Groshans said that people must be over the age of 21 in Nassau County in order to buy e-cigarettes.

“The FDA just came out and said that it [vaping] is now an epidemic for our young teens,” said Groshans.

Trustee Lynn Pombonyo said that it is a serious issue for the village and that the village board will continue to have a focus on the quality of life for its residents.

“This is not something that is taken very lightly by any means,” said Mayor Dominick Longobardi. “A lot of effort and a lot of time has gone into making sure we do the best we possibly can to ensure the health and safety to the people of our community.”

Trustee Archie Cheng said that instead of banning hookah bars and vape shops from the village altogether, there are constitutional issues that have been raised warranting the village board to enact a limitation on these types of establishments.

“At this point, we’d like to get this law on the books,” said Longobardi. “So that we can eliminate the possibility of any of these shops opening up on Tulip Avenue, Covert Avenue, Jericho Turnpike and out in the public areas where our stronger business districts are.”

Potential vape shops and hookah bars will continue to be subject to the village’s regulations regarding “special uses” and will require a hearing before the board before any special use permit is granted. The Village of Floral Park said that they will continue to closely monitor New York State and federal regulations of these products and businesses also.

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