The owners of a vape shop that recently opened near a high school in Pleasantville, N.Y., say town officials are persecuting their business.
The Glass Room, owned by Mike DiFazio and his brother, opened three weeks ago in the community and is facing a constant barrage of criticism. The Pleasantville School Board convened an emergency meeting during its summer recess in July to discuss the shop coming to their town, which they alleged would create easy access to the age-restricted products for minors, reports The Examiner News.
DiFazio says a coalition of residents working with local officials are relentlessly spreading misinformation about their shop in an attempt to damage their reputation. They are also pushing for greater restrictions on vaping products that would diminish sales for the store and make the products more expensive for smokers using the devices to quit.
“We love Pleasantville and people think we’re coming in and ruining it,” DiFazio told The Examiner News. “We’re a family business trying to make an honest living, we’re not looking to hurt anybody or make people uncomfortable. We didn’t think we were doing anything wrong by coming here.”
DiFazio stresses that they responsibly operate within the law, obeying age restrictions and educating their customers on the proper use of the products. He says the majority of his customers are former smokers who have quit or are in the process of transitioning off cigarettes.
While the brothers say they are more than willing to work with community leaders to help protect the health of the town’s young residents, they say not one local official or member of the school district has met with them to discuss their reservations.
School officials passed a resolution in August asking local officials to reform the zoning rules to prevent shops like The Glass Room from opening.
“This is the hardest time we’ve ever had opening a store,” DiFazio told The Examiner News. “It feels like we’re being picked on. We run a clean and legitimate business. We’re very interested and educated in the business and we care about our customers.”
Democratic officials in New York are generally up in arms over the growing mainstream popularity of vaping, pushing alarmist talking points on the alleged threat the devices pose to teens and children.
A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released June 15 revealed that after a rapid increase in youth vaping between 2011 and 2015, teens are now giving up the habit. The number of middle school and high school students who use a vaping device dropped from 3 million to 2.2 million in 2016.
DiFazio plans on meeting with Pleasantville lawmakers in October to discuss the ongoing issues.
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