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Parents, Local Lawmakers Argue For Tighter Regulations For Hookah Bars On Long Island

LEVITTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There's a huff erupting over hookah bars in one Nassau County community, where some residents and lawmakers want to ban them in certain places so teens don't get caught up in the vaping craze.

Owners of hookah lounges and vape stores in the area may soon find it more difficult to open following an onslaught of parental complaints across Long Island.

"It's something we've noticed growing more and more prevalent among our students," Levittown Schools Assistant Superintendent Dr. Donald Sturz said. "We see it, we hear it."

Hempstead, the largest township in the state, now wants to ban the popular smoking lounges from sites near schools, parks, and homes -- restricting them to industrial zones.

"We have to do something and standing around waiting for the federal government or the state government, they're not doing it. They Centers for Disease Control isn't banning it," Councilman Dennis Dunne said.

Proponents of vaping say e-cigarettes offer a healthy alternative to tobacco cigarettes and can serve as a useful aid in quitting smoking.

"I actually quit smoking and just started vaping," e-cig user Ashley Asitimbay said. "I helped my father, he quit too."

Vaping involves battery powered devices that heat a liquid, some contain nicotine. Inhaling and exhaling creates a vapor.

"When you smoke a cigarette it's just a little smoke in the mouth, but when you vape with these products you get a lot of smoke like hookah," vape store manager Rahul Govindappagari told CBS2's Jennifer McLogan.

Not enough is known yet about the long term effects of vaping on young brains, according to Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds with the Family and Children's Association.

"In an average hookah session that lasts an hour, the person is going to take about 200 puffs on that hookah pipe," Dr. Reynolds said.

Nassau's newest elected legislator wants to expand the bill county-wide.

"I think the first step is we definitely need to get some age restriction on who can enter these establishments, these hookah lounges," Legislator-elect John Ferretti said.

Numbers of high school students reported using electronic cigarettes recently rose from one and a half percent to 17 percent, CBS2 reported. A public hearing on restrictions and possible bans will be held in Hempstead Town Hall next Tuesday.

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