By Holly Crocco
The Carmel Town Board has enacted a temporary moratorium on the issuance of permits to operate smoke shops and vape shops in town.
According to the resolution approved by the board at its March 1 meeting, the town has received numerous complains regarding these establishments, specifically concerning their alleged detrimental effects on the health, safety, welfare and quality of life of residents.
The moratorium, which lasts through June 30, allows the board to continue its review of its zoning chapter of the town code regarding the regulation of smoke and vape shops, and draft new legislation regarding these establishments, reads the resolution.
During last week’s meeting, Kristin McConnell, executive director of the Prevention Council of Putnam, said the availability of smoking and vaping products in the community leads to increased use among youth.
“Preventing vaping among youth is critical to ending the tobacco epidemic in this country,” she said. “According to Monitoring the Future survey data, 20.5 percent of 10th-graders and 27.3 percent of 12th-graders reported vaping in 2022… We constantly hear from school administrators who are overwhelmed with students vaping at school.”
By reducing access to and availability of smoking and vaping products, McConnell said advocates hope to curb usage among young people.
“Youth vaping is a public health epidemic in this community and we play a roll in preventing the next generation of young people from ever trying vaping, and potentially saving thousands of lives in Putnam County,” she said.
Danielle Canora, owner of Hudson Valley Hemp in Mahopac, asked the board to separate its concerns regarding vape and smoke shops, from that of cannabis retail.
“I do agree that vaping and nicotine products should be regulated more,” she said. “I do not agree with these smoke shops. I do not think they should be open from 10 in the morning until 12 at night.”
However, when it comes to cannabis and hemp retailers, Canora said she believes the community could use more education. She also said she hopes the town considers opting to allow dispensaries.
“I am constantly thanked every day by clients who need help with cannabis products, and all legal products,” she said. “I think education is probably at the forefront of this industry, because misguidance will wind us down the wrong path.
“By definition, a smoke shop is a place that has nicotine, tobacco products and smoking paraphernalia,” she continued. “I am not that place. I do not condone it. I am condoning cannabis health and wellness. It is a big factor because people do want to get off those prescription pills. People do want to lean away from the Big Pharm aspect of things. With a natural therapeutic, there could be huge outcomes with this.”
Before voting on the matter, Councilman Stephen Baranowski called it a “complex topic.”
“I kind of question, quite frankly, the practical usefulness of this prohibition, since we already have, what, a dozen or so of these shops already,” he said. “But, in any case, I think the prohibition does send a positive message, so I am going to vote ‘yes.’”
The vote to enact the temporary moratorium was unanimous.