Bedford businesses sue town over law that bans selling e-cigs based on location

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BEDFORD -

A handful of businesses in Bedford are suing the town to overturn a local law that prevents them from selling electronic cigarettes based on their location.

Alex Fernandez, who owns the Preferred Gas Mart on Haines Road, says his business is losing money because he's not allowed to sell electronic cigarettes or vaping products.

“People come in for coffee, cigarettes, candy and so forth, so if they can't find their product they're looking for here, they'll go somewhere else,” he says.

The Town of Bedford approved a zoning ordinance in May, banning the sale of e-cigs, like Juul, at several businesses in town.

Fernandez's store is one of five businesses, mostly gas station mini-marts, now suing the town.

“We hope that corrects us because where does it stop? If they start with Juul, are they going to start with soda because there's too much caffeine, or alcohol because kids are getting their hands on alcohol as well?”

The sale of e-cigarettes isn't restricted everywhere in Bedford. Businesses along Route 117 are still allowed to sell the products.

“We wanted it away from residential areas, away from schools, churches. We wanted it to be something in an area where it would be more appropriate,” says Bedford Town Supervisor Chris Burdick.

Burdick says other towns, such as New Castle, have similar laws restricting vape shop locations.

“Given what's become an epidemic...we're seeing on a daily basis the evidence of the tremendous problem we have with flavored vape products, which are luring young people to an addiction for nicotine,” he says.

Fernandez is temporarily selling the smoking alternatives following a filed injunction with the Supreme Court.

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