As part of a two-week undercover sting operation dubbed “Operation Vape Out,” Suffolk Police found that more than two dozen business had been illegally selling e-cigarettes and tobacco to individuals under 21.
The operation, which occurred from Sept. 4 through Sept. 18. It resulted in 32 violations issued to employees of those businesses.
“After years of a steady decline in nicotine addiction and cigarette sales, the introduction of vaporizers has reversed this positive trend so that nicotine addiction is once again on the rise,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone (D). “This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Suffolk County. In a coordinated effort with the Suffolk County Police Department and the Department of Health, a sting operation uncovered 30 establishments that allegedly sold these products to minors and arrests have been made.”
In 2014, 73 percent of high school students and 56 percent of middle school students who used tobacco products in the past 30 days reported using a flavored tobacco product during that time, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some local businesses that were charged with the sale of e-cigarettes or liquid nicotine to persons under 21 were:
- VaporFi, located at 229B Smithtown Blvd., Nesconset
- Aroma Smoke Shop, 6 East Main St., Smithtown
- Island Wood Cigars and Vapors, located at 298 Maple Ave., Smithtown
- James Vape Shop, located at 448 Lake Ave., Saint James
The following businesses were charged with unlawfully dealing with a child 2nddegree:
- 76 Gas, located at 1714 New York Ave., Huntington Station
- The Barn, located at 2020 Jericho Turnpike, East Northport
- Hemp Clouds , located at 1515 Route 25, Selden
- Hookah City, located at 202 Main St., Port Jefferson
“The department will continue to target the issue of vaping with increased education and enforcement efforts,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart. “We urge businesses to check IDs when selling vape products and abide by the ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes because we will continue to check for compliance.”
In addition, Bellone announced the expansion of the Health Department’s vaping prevention and intervention program, known as VAPE OUT!, by adding community youth vaping cessation classes. The program also includes peer and parent education forums and alternatives to suspension enforcement programs.
Over 200 high school students were trained as peer educators and they presented VAPE OUT! to over 1,840 middle school students, Bellone said in a statement.