[Adopted 8-18-2009 by L.L. No. 29-2009 (Ch. 462, Art. II, of the 1985 Code)]
This Legislature hereby finds that while state and federal governments have been slow to respond meaningfully to the public health crisis caused by smoking, the Suffolk County Legislature has a long and proud history of being at the forefront of the efforts to curb smoking and its inherent dangerous effects on the general public's health.
This Legislature finds that Suffolk County was one of the first municipalities in the nation to ban smoking in restaurants and other public places and one of the first municipalities to limit the access school-age children have to tobacco products by passing "Tobacco 19," which raised to 19 the legal age for the purchase of tobacco products.
This Legislature recognizes that dangers posed by tobacco are not limited to cigarettes, pipes or other traditional forms of smoking.
This Legislature also finds and determines that new, unregulated high-tech smoking devices, commonly referred to as "electronic cigarettes" or "e-cigarettes," have recently been made available to consumers. These devices closely resemble and purposefully mimic the art of smoking by having users inhale vaporized liquid nicotine created by heat through an electronic ignition system. The vapors are expelled via a cartridge that usually contains a concentration of pure nicotine. The cartridge and ignition system are housed in a device created to look exactly like a traditional cigarette, cigar or pipe. After inhaling, the user then blows out the heated vapors, producing a "cloud" of undetermined substances that is virtually indistinguishable from traditional cigarettes, cigars and pipes.
This Legislature also finds and determines that nicotine is a known neurotoxin that is also one of the most highly addictive substances available for public consumption.
This Legislature finds that the manufacturers and marketers of e-cigarettes purposefully and intentionally advertise their products as safe nicotine-delivery devices and smoking cessation modalities.
This Legislature also finds that these safety and smoking cessation assertions made by e-cigarette companies have been disproven by laboratory tests conducted by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Indeed, this testing has shown that e-cigarettes do contain carcinogens, including nitrosamines. Further, the FDA tests showed that e-cigarettes were found to contain toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol. This compound is a common ingredient in antifreeze and, in 2007, was also surreptitiously substituted for glycerin by several Chinese manufacturing companies in the making of toothpaste, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people worldwide. While some e-cigarette manufacturers dispute the FDA's findings as limited in scope and sample, these manufacturers have not submitted for independent peer review any of their findings that purportedly support their safety and smoking cessation claims.
This Legislature also finds that along with the FDA's publicly expressed concerns over the safety of these devices, the FDA is continuing its official investigation into the e-smoking devices and has refused to allow e-cigarettes, e-cigars and e-pipes to cross the border in our country because they are considered new drugs and drug-delivery devices that require FDA approval.
This Legislature further finds that, concurrent with this lack of suitable information, e-cigarette manufacturers offer their nicotine cartridges in a variety of flavors, including cherry, chocolate, and vanilla. The FDA and public health advocates warn these flavorings are purposefully meant to appeal to and attract young people and are commonly referred to as "training wheels" for traditional cigarettes.
This Legislature also finds that studies show that adolescents can become addicted to nicotine after ingesting the equivalent of 20 traditional cigarettes (the amount traditionally available in a single pack). The appeal created by the flavored e-cigarette can lead young people into a lifetime of nicotine addiction.
This Legislature also finds that the nicotine content in e-cigarettes is unknown and unspecified and presents a significant risk of rapid addiction or overdose.
This Legislature also finds that when consumed in public places where traditional tobacco products are banned, the use of e-cigarettes causes fear, stress and confusion among patrons and workers alike. E-cigarettes also seriously compromise the County's current public health laws governing indoor smoking bans and create an enforcement nightmare for the Department of Health Services' Tobacco Enforcement Unit.
This Legislature is encouraged that other governments and public health organizations have joined the FDA in speaking out about the potential dangers posed by e-cigarettes. These entities are also calling on e-cigarette manufacturers to discontinue their safety claims until these products have been independently tested. These groups include the World Health Organization and the Canadian government's FDA equivalent, the Health Products and Food Branch Inspectorate.
This Legislature further finds that every year tobacco products siphon off more than $268,000,000,000 in directly related health-care and lost worker productivity costs and lead to the deaths of almost 1/2 million Americans. This Legislature is supportive of tobacco cessation programs and modalities that have proven efficacy and utilize safe FDA-approved products.
This Legislature also determines that protecting Suffolk County residents against an untested nicotine product like e-cigarettes represents sound public health and fiscal policy.
Therefore, the purpose of this article is to ban the sale of e-cigarettes and like products in Suffolk County to persons under the age of 21 and to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes and like products in public places where traditional forms of smoking are already disallowed.
[Amended 3-18-2014 by L.L. No. 11-2014]
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any electronic device composed of a mouthpiece, heating element, battery and electronic circuits that provides a vapor of liquid nicotine and/or other substances mixed with propylene glycol to the user as he or she simulates smoking. This term shall include such devices whether they are manufactured as e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipes or under any other product name.
- LIQUID NICOTINE
- Any liquid product composed either in whole or part of pure nicotine and proprylene glycol and manufactured for use with e-cigarettes.
- Any natural person, individual, corporation, unincorporated association, proprietorship, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint-stock association, or other entity or business of any kind.
No person shall sell or offer for sale e-cigarettes or liquid nicotine within the County of Suffolk to persons under 21 years of age.
[Amended 12-4-2018 by L.L. No. 1-2019]
Any person who intentionally violates the provisions of § 792-9 of this article shall be guilty of an unclassified misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 for the first violation, and up to $2,000 for each subsequent violation. Each violation shall constitute a separate and distinct offense.
This article shall be null and void on the day that statewide or federal legislation goes into effect, incorporating either the same or substantially similar provisions as are contained in this article, or in the event that a pertinent state or federal administrative agency issues and promulgates regulations preempting such action by the County of Suffolk. The County Legislature may determine via mere resolution whether or not identical or substantially similar statewide legislation has been enacted for the purposes of triggering the provisions in this section.
This article shall apply to all actions occurring on or after the effective date of this article.
This article shall take effect 60 days after its filing in the office of the Secretary of State.