Plattsburgh Officials Consider E-Cig Restrictions

Mar 5, 2019

There is mixed reaction to the idea of restricting the use of e-cigarettes in the city of Plattsburgh.

The Plattsburgh Common Council held a public hearing last Thursday.

Ward 1 councilor Rachelle Armstrong has proposed amending the city law that regulates tobacco use on public property to include “electronic nicotine delivery” systems. The proposal included a fine up to $250 for the use or possession of items such as e-cigarettes, vaping or hookahs on public property. It would be applicable to any person — even those under 18 years of age.  

The public hearing on the new regulations drew mixed responses.

Mayor Colin Read read into the record a comment submitted by email from an unidentified Ward 1 resident critical of the idea. “With vapor research confirms that the primary user is the only person who experiences any suspected risk.”
Jack Beaumont:  “What’s that research from?”
Mayor Read:  “It doesn’t state where their source is.”
Beaumont: “Sounds like somebody who’s in the vape business.”

Oak Street resident Jack Beaumont was skeptical about the letter writer’s claims due in part to his experiences.  “I have three people downstairs, young people, who are smoking e-cigarettes. It stinks up my apartment, the vapors from it. I deal with it every day. I don’t know what my recourse is.”

Ward 4 Councilor Peter Ensel related a phone call from a constituent opposed to the proposal.  “I received one comment from a constituent who called me to say that approving this law was violating their constitutional rights and so on so just for the record.”

Sponsor Armstrong noted the measure mirrors exactly what was written and passed in 2001 and merely adds electronic smoking devices.

Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association executive director Alex Clark is a Plattsburgh resident who opposes the measure.  "Not only am I concerned about this ordinance sending the wrong message about smoke-free tobacco and nicotine products and that they would discourage people who smoke from trying these products by sending the inaccurate message that they are just as harmful as as combustible tobacco products but I do have very very strong concerns about the wording that would criminalize possession by anyone.”

Tobacco-Free Clinton-Franklin-Essex Program Director Dana Bushey is a proponent of restricting use on public property. “What we see right now is one of the gravest public health issues facing our young people when it comes to nicotine addiction.  Since 2014 to ’18 there was 160 percent increase in youth using vaping products.”
 “Hi I’m Laurie Anne Lennon. I’m a student myself at Stafford Middle School. When I walk home with my friends there’s like a lot of people who do smoke and I personally think it’s not okay. I kind of dislike it because it’s kind of like self-harm and it can hurt you.”

During the council’s regular session Councilor Armstrong amended the resolution to lower the fine and remove the possession violation. Another public hearing to discuss the new version was set for Thursday, March 14th.