WEST BABYLON (FOX 5 NY) - Seven vape shops across the Town of Babylon are closed for business.
Would-be customers to Cloud Werx were greeted by bright green notices of violation as town officials and police announced an e-cigarette crackdown.
"We visited 12 vape shops, we closed seven, hit 15 of them with sign violations, 21 with building code violations, and 17 with fire code violations," Town Councilman Terence McSweeney said.
The town-wide raids follow a sting operation by Suffolk County Police that caught nearly a dozen shops selling to minors.
"The First Precinct's role in that was to send undercover agents into 23 stores that we believe sold vape products," Inspector Kevin Kane said. "Out of those 23 stores, at 10 such locations people did sell e-cigarettes or liquid nicotine to minors."
Police said the stores were shut down for a handful of building violations, first and foremost, for their existence within 2,000 feet of a school building without a proper permit.
"We see students using them at an alarming rate," Deer Park School District Superintendent James Cummings said. "They're using them in the bathrooms, they're modifying hoodies so that they can vape."
Cloud Werx, in particular, was issued summonses for blocked fire exits, missing ceiling tiles, and sleeping quarters in the back of the store.
Many locals weren't shocked to hear of the violations.
"I've walked past here and I've seen, literally, smoke filling the room and these fire alarms always going off," Paul Meyer of West Babylon said.
The crackdown comes amid a vaping epidemic and lung-related illnesses claiming the lives of 29 people across the nation.
In March 2018, the Town of Babylon passed legislation that restricted vape shops from opening in both residential and business areas.
The owners of Cloud Werx could not be reached for comment.
Town officials said that if the owners try to reopen illegally, they could be hit with up to a year of jail time.