MONTGOMERY: Ordinance proposed to license stores that sell tobacco, e-cigarettes

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By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
Aiming to keep tobacco, electronic cigarettes and related devices out of the hands of young people – and to keep tabs on who sells them – the Montgomery Township Board of Health has introduced an ordinance that requires the stores to be licensed.
To get feedback on the ordinance before it is adopted, a public hearing on it has been set by the Board of Health for Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the courtroom at the Municipal Building on Route 206.
A new state law took effect Nov. 1 that bans the sale of tobacco and tobacco-related products, such as electronic cigarettes, to persons who are under 21 years old. Those products had been available to buyers who were at least 19 years old, until the new law raised the minimum age.
The concern is that young people view electronic cigarettes – or e-cigarettes – as a safe alternative to tobacco cigarettes, said township Health Officer Stephanie Carey. The number of young people who are experimenting with candy-flavored e-cigarettes is increasing at an alarming rate, she said.
“People in Montgomery care about their young people. They want them to have a healthy start in life, and that’s what this ordinance (to license stores) is all about,” Carey said.
“You can’t monitor under-age sales if you don’t know where the stores are,” she said.
The proposed ordinance covers electronic smoking devices, such as e-cigarettes, and liquids or powders associated with them, as well as traditional tobacco products – cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco and snuff.
Stores that sell e-cigarettes and related products would have to be licensed by the Montgomery Township Board of Health, according to the ordinance. The initial license costs $600. The fee drops to $300 at the annual renewal.
The license, which is issued for a specific location, cannot be transferred if the store is sold to a new owner. The license must be displayed so that it is visible to anyone who enters the store.
The ordinance would also require signs to be displayed that state proof of age is required to buy tobacco products – both traditional and electronic versions. A prospective buyer must show photo identification that includes the date of birth.
Stores that violate the ordinance can be fined $250 for the first offense, and $500 for the second offense. The third and subsequent offenses carry fines of $1,000. In addition, the store’s license may be revoked.