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Vape store decision coming for city board

Brookhaven officials are having second thoughts about vaping — along with the nation’s largest retailer.

Brookhaven aldermen earlier this year voted to adopt a Smoke Free Ordinance that permitted vape shops to allow sampling of their products inside their stores.

“I supported it when it came about but I’m having some reservations about it now. I’m almost to the point that I’m sorry I supported it,” Ward 1 Alderman Dorsey Cameron said during a board meeting last week.

“You stole my thunder,” said Mayor Joe Cox, who had recently talked to city attorney Joe Fernald about the subject. “Joe and I have been discussing that and we’re real concerned about vaping and the lipoid pneumonia that’s being caused by that. The FDA is looking at it.”

Their concern comes from the surge in underage vaping, as well as deaths and illnesses attributed to vaping.

Walmart announced recently that it will stop selling electronic cigarettes when its current inventory is gone. It said the decision came from ”growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity” regarding vaping products.

President Donald Trump has proposed a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products. Michigan has banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. In June, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes.

In Brookhaven, Alderwoman-at-Large Karen Sullivan asked if the city could deny any other vape stores from opening. Vapor World recently opened on Brookway Boulevard, becoming the third vape store in Brookhaven.

“Can we at least have a moratorium?” she asked.

“We are looking into that,” Cox said.

In deciding how to address vape shops, city officials will have to balance health concerns with a desire to promote business in town. They are likely hoping a regulatory effort from the FDA will make the decision for them. Lawmakers in DC are pushing the FDA to pull most e-cigarettes off the market until the agency can review their safety.

Those efforts will likely take some time, which means Brookhaven officials may have to decide themselves how the city will regulate vape shops.