The Plattsburgh City Council has approved a measure to include electronic smoking devices in the smoking ban at the city’s public properties. At a meeting Thursday, a number of students voiced their support of the measure while some adults detailed their opposition.
The amendment to the city code would add electronic nicotine delivery systems to the prohibition of tobacco use on or in buildings, streets, sidewalks, parks or any city-owned property. Any person, without age restriction, using products such as e-cigarettes, vaping devices or hookahs could be fined up to $100.
During the hearing’s public comment session, several adults associated with the vaping industry voiced concerns about the proposal. Michael Frennier owns a vape shop in Plattsburgh and is President of the New York State Vapor Association. “This particular law has all the ability to become a harassment law. You know I’d hate to see convenience stores, tobacco shops or even vape shops be targeted for somebody walking across the public sidewalk vaping or smoking. You know but I commend you for wanting to protect the kids. We all want to protect the kids. But if the city really wants to take a stand against teenage underage use of tobacco make it illegal.”
“My name is Earl Dahl. I’m the local owner of Plattsburgh VapeCo. I am located downtown. I have a lot of customers that come from downtown. You know the reason why I think this proposal is going through is to target underage and I understand that completely. My biggest thing is that since I am located on Bridge Street any of my customers that walk out and decide to use their product after just purchasing it they can’t. They walk outside, they use the product they just purchased and now they get fined for it.”
Meanwhile, young people are urging city leaders to pass the measure. Plattsburgh High School ninth grader Amelia Di Dominicas pointed to how easily her nine-year-old brother is influenced by her peers. "We’re kind of just paying for prolonged suicide. So I just don’t want these little kids to be so easily influenced.”
“I’m Rosa Goldsmith and I’m a representative of Reality Check. I have a four-year-old nephew who has really bad asthma. Someone who was smoking like over here like to the side of the building blew smoke over him and he started having an asthma attack. Not only was it scary for me ‘cause I was alone with him it was scary for him because he couldn’t breathe. So medical reasons can also like affect it a lot.”
At the meeting, Ward 1 Councilor Rachelle Armstrong read data from the U.S. Surgeon General and said the measure is intended to protect youth. "Those who engage in smoking either tobacco or vaping engage in a behavior that is their choice which is not prohibited for them to engage in in their own private spaces. The purpose of this law is to protect the public.”
Ward 4 Councilor Peter Ensel said he was encouraged by the number of young people who commented. “I was particularly touched by the young lady who spoke about her four-year-old nephew at a public event. Having had people I’m close to have similar situations I can absolutely positively relate. And I know that people talk about their rights to do an activity in public. I think people also have a right to be able to attend and breathe.”
City councilors voted unanimously to adopt the local law adding e-cigarettes to the smoking ban on city properties. The resolution says it will take effect when it is approved by Mayor Colin Read and filed with the New York State Secretary of State.