Dozens of Washington Township residents are petitioning to keep a smoke shop from opening in town and hope to ultimately change ordinances around smoke, vape and legalized marijuana sales in the town as other local municipalities have done.
On April 25, Eddie Marji presented his application for Cedar Smoke Shop in Washington Township Center to the Township Planning Board.
The proposal prompted concern among many residents, who have written a letter to Township Council urging them to obtain more information around smoke and vape shops before Marji's application is approved.
Marji -- who owns other smoke shops in Bellville, Rochelle Park, Lodi and Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. -- said he would not sell marijuana if legalized by the state and is open to limiting sales of cartoon-themed drug paraphernalia targeted at children, the letter says.
"We understand there may be some difficulty in finding a legal challenge to the application given the current ordinances," the letter says. "In the short term, we are asking for your support in obtaining more information before this application is approved and to provide education on potential issues."
More than 220 people had signed an online petition aimed at halting vape and smoke shops from opening in Washington Township.
The residents cited initial concerns -- primarily public health.
New studies have shown that not only are e-cigarettes and vapes highly addictive, but they contain chemicals linked to cancer.
"The presence of harmful ingredients in e-cigarette vapor has been established," research published in the journal Pediatrics .
"We can now say that these chemicals are found in the body of human adolescents who use these products."
The residents also opined in the letter that smoke shops are better suited for less residential areas away from schools and libraries, and worry it may have the potential to have a negative impact on home values.
"There are already several specific zoning use regulations in our town ordinances such as check-cashing establishments, pawn shops, entertainment clubs, etc.," the letter says.
"We believe smoke and vape shops belong on the list."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.