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Vaporizer

Vapors is located on Main Street in Port Jefferson. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Local governments are cracking down on smoking in all its forms by confining related businesses to certain locations.

Brookhaven Town recently restricted smoke shops and lounges and one village is looking to strengthen rules already in place for the establishments.

The action started in the fall, when the Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees passed a law that effectively banned hookah shops, as well as tattoo parlors and adult entertainment. Residents and village officials had been vocal about what they perceived to be too many shops on Main Street selling hookahs — water pipes used for smoking flavored tobacco — and their related products. Many had complained that the businesses attract an undesirable type of person to the area and sell unhealthy items. Some also said they feared the shops would sell paraphernalia and dangerous substances to underage patrons.

The dissent propelled a law that now restricts future hookah shops, tattoo parlors and adult establishments like topless bars to the Light Industrial I-2 District zone. While the preexisting shops are not affected, the law effectively bans future shops because only two properties in the entire village are zoned light industrial — and both of those Columbia Street plots are already occupied.

Hookah City is located on Main Street in Port Jefferson. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Hookah City is located on Main Street in Port Jefferson. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Passing an outright ban would have been an illegal action.

Port Jefferson Village is now seeking to tighten its restrictions by folding into the law marijuana dispensaries and stores selling products linked to e-cigarettes and vaporizers. The village code proposal, which will come up for a public hearing on June 6, states that such establishments bring “well-documented negative secondary effects … such as increased crime, decreased property values and reduced shopping and commercial activities.” It also cites the health risks of e-cigarettes and the dangers of exposing children to the behavior.

“The expansion of the foregoing businesses has resulted in increased anti-social behavior involving minors,” it says.

Among the restrictions, the shops in the light industrial zone could not be within a certain distance of facilities such as community centers, churches or schools.

The Town of Brookhaven got on the same train recently when its town board passed a law on May 12 that restricts indoor smoking establishments — businesses in which tobacco in any form, including through e-cigarettes and vaporizers, or other substances are smoked indoors. New shops can now no longer open within certain distances of residential areas, schools, churches, parks or other family- or child-oriented places. They also cannot open within 1 mile of one another.

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), who came up with the idea, touted it as a measure to prevent kids from using drugs.

“You cannot believe how creative addicts and users are when it comes to situations like this,” she said, “what they can do and how they can manipulate this apparatus.”

Some have used hookahs, vaporizers and other tobacco devices to smoke marijuana, among other substances.

“This legislation came to pass because of what we see, what’s happening in our communities all over the place,” Bonner said. “This is a very important first step and we may take further steps as we see how this works out.”

Both the town and village laws have had their critics. In Port Jefferson, Trustee Bruce D’Abramo and other residents did not want the village interfering with the free market, which would determine how many smoke shops one neighborhood could sustain, and did not want the village policing people’s heath. They compared the smoke shops to the numerous bars in downtown Port Jefferson.

And Alex Patel, who works at Rocky Point Smoke & Vape Shop, said the town law might have little payoff because parents buy devices for their kids or the kids shop online — those under 21 may still get what they are looking for.

“Online, I see people buying left and right,” Patel said about vaporizers and similar devices. “It’s much cheaper online because they’re buying in bulk.”

But the town law also had community support: “When I think of these [smoking] lounges I think of heroin dens, something I read about and saw movies about when I was a child and scared the heck out of me,” Jeff Kagan, of the Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organization, said May 12. “I believe that we don’t really know what these dens are all about or what’s really going to go on in these facilities. We don’t know the long-term impact.”

Alex Petroski contributed reporting.

Vape Shops across Suffolk say the new law will hurt their businesses. File photo by Giselle Barkley

During last week’s Rocky Point Drug Forum, Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) announced her new step to combat drug use, with a ban regarding hookah lounges and smoke and vape shops in Brookhaven Town.

If the town approves and implements the councilwoman’s proposal, prospective shop owners cannot establish their businesses within 1,000 feet of family- or child-oriented institutions or various public places. These locations include educational and religious facilities; non-degree granting schools, like ballet and karate studios; and swimming pools. The ban won’t apply to existing lounges and shops that have proper permits and certificates of occupancy.

The idea isn’t simply to deter students from purchasing items from the store, but also to prevent them from using these devices, or similar items, to smoke drugs like marijuana. During last week’s forum, John Venza, vice president of Adolescent Services for Outreach, said some vaporizers can accommodate various forms of marijuana including dabs, a wax-like form of the drug that has higher levels of THC.

According to Venza, marketing has also changed over the years to appeal to a younger audience. Bonner not only agreed with Venza, but went a step further.

“We all know that those attractive signs that lure the kids in are the very same reason the government banned Camel advertising,” Bonner said during last week’s forum. She added that parents need to keep a closer eye on their kids by observing their social media accounts, going through their phones and having family dinners.

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Councilwoman Jane Bonner announces her proposed ban at the Rocky Point Drug Forum last week. Photo by Giselle Barkley

For the Rocky Point school district and community alike, fighting substance abuse is a top priority. But according to Rocky Point Superintendent of Schools Michael Ring, the fight is an uphill battle with new devices on the market.

“One of the things that works against us is the emerging technology that makes it easier for students to be brought in and grow that into abuse,” Ring said.

But Rocky Point Smoke & Vape Shop employee Alex Patel said the ban might be a good idea with little reward. According to the Rocky Point resident and father of two, parents have purchased vaporizers and accessories for their children. Patel said the shop isn’t legally allowed to sell to residents who are under 21 years old, but this isn’t the only way students are acquiring the devices.

“Online, I see people buying left and right,” Patel said about vaporizers and similar devices. “It’s much cheaper online because they’re buying in bulk. So what they’re paying in the store $50, online, they can get it for $20.”

He added that it’s also easier for students to purchase these items online because these sites don’t verify the buyer’s age. In light of this, Patel continued saying the proposed ban won’t stop these underage residents from finding what they’re looking for.

North Shore Youth Council Executive Director Janene Gentile said she hasn’t seen an increase in these shops near her organization, but said the youth council works “with the legislators around holding the pharmaceutical companies accountable” as well.

“I believe in this bill,” Gentile added.

Residents can voice their opinions regarding the ban at the May 12 public hearing at 6 p.m. in Brookhaven Town Hall.

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Danielle and Nicole Mogyorosi are using their Smithtown roots to bring their new business into the mainstream. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

The cirkusz is coming to town.

Smithtown sisters Danielle and Nicole Mogyorosi just launched a new line of vapor juice flavors, named Cirkusz Grrl, that reflect their family background with the circus. Frank Mogyorosi, their father, moved from Hungary to America with the Ringling Brothers Circus in the 1950s.

Nicole Mogyorosi has friends in the vapor industry, and they invited the sisters to come and test different flavors in their lab.

“That’s when the light bulb went off,” Danielle Mogyorosi said. “We realized we should make a line to pay homage to our background.”

Nicole, born in 1981, and Danielle, born in 1983, traveled the United States with their family in the circus until they were 7 years old. The family then moved to Smithtown.

“We grew up around candy apples and carnie cones,” Nicole Mogyorosi said. “I used to eat funnel cakes for breakfast, so we went into this idea with flavors in mind. We wanted to perfect them into exactly what we remembered.”

Danielle and Nicole Mogyorosi are using their Smithtown roots to bring their new business into the mainstream. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Danielle and Nicole Mogyorosi are using their Smithtown roots to bring their new business into the mainstream. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

The sisters said for customers it’s very popular because it’s a throwback, and brings people back to that time of being a kid and enjoying circus.

Currently Cirkusz Grrl has five flavors: carousel cotton candy, jumbo popcorn, big top candy apple, sideshow dough and carnie cone cherry ice.

Both sisters now reside in Maryland, where Cirkusz Grrl was born. They stumbled upon vaping after many failed attempts to quit smoking. They tried nicotine patches and gum, hypnotism and going cold turkey but nothing worked.

After trying vaporizers, they have both been cigarette-free for months.

“It’s gotten me there,” Nicole Mogyorosi said. “It helps to still have the hand to mouth, that oral fixation.” Danielle added that it was the best alternative for her, and she already feels the difference.

Vaping describes the act when using an electronic cigarette, which is a battery-powered vaporizer that simulates the feel of smoking, but with no tobacco in it. The nicotine in it is in liquid form, and can be adjusted.

“The ultimate goal is to get to zero amount of nicotine — it’s a way of weaning down,” Nicole Mogyorosi said.

The social aspect of vaping is another reason why they were interested in the business.

“Vaping is its own community — it’s fun and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Danielle Mogyorosi said.

There are many vaping lounges where customers can sample different flavors while socializing.

Xhale Custom Vapors, of 335 Smithtown Blvd. in Ronkonkoma is having a grand reopening this month, and is hosting Cirkusz Grrl’s first in-store launch party on Aug. 29 at 2 p.m.

“Vaping is becoming a seriously large subculture,” Ray Swartz, general manager for Xhale’s two Long Island locations said in a statement. “In welcoming such an awesome line as Cirkusz Grrl as our first major event guests, we are hoping to set a precedent for more events, new flavors and products.”

Nicole Mogyorosi has been a graphic designer for the past 10 years, and Danielle has worked in hospitality. They feel that together they bring all the skills necessary to run a successful company.

“It’s been amazing so far. We know each other’s work ethic, and it’s fun,” the sisters said together.