Springboro puts moratorium on new vape shops; industry group pushes back

City Council approved 270-day halt; OVTA says their stores are singled out, while gas stations and others that sell vape products are unaffected

Concerns about illegal sales to minors, as well as zoning issues, have prompted Springboro City Council to impose a 270-day moratorium on new vape stores, so that city officials can have time to research the effects the stores have on the community.

Vapes, also called e-cigarettes, are battery-operated devices that people use to inhale a vapor that typically contains nicotine and flavorings, according to the National Institutes of Health.

In his report to council, City Manager Chris Pozzuto said, “vape stores have been known to increase the prevalence of illegal sales to minors and have caused many cities to propose regulations dealing with distance of vape stores to other uses including in particular those associated with minors.”

Scott Eley, president of the Ohio Vapor Trade Association, called the city’s moratorium unfair and wants Springboro to clearly define what a vape store is, as many large retail outlets, such as Speedway and 7/11, sell electronic smoking products in addition to traditional tobacco products.

In addition to researching the effects of vape stores in the community, Pozzuto said the city wants to create reasonable regulations to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community.

He said there are currently three vape stores operating in Springboro. A fourth business filed an application prior to the Sept. 8 passage of the moratorium resolution and is being processed.

One of the Springboro stores was among four in the Dayton area last April that were raided by the Tactical Crime Suppression Unit after an investigation that police say discovered they were selling products that illegally contain hashish and THC.

The attorney representing the Springboro Vape & Smoke Shop said at the time that his client had no knowledge of any products containing any controlled substances, including THC and/or hashish.

Pozzuto said a zoning review is also needed because of questions being raised concerning signage and lighting of these businesses. He told the Dayton Daily News that nearly two dozen complaints have been made to the city regarding these businesses.

While the city has the right to enact laws that are for the health, safety, and welfare of Springboro residents, including zoning laws and business regulations, council needs time to review the applicable federal and state laws and regulations and other issues in order for the Planning Commission and council to more fully consider the issues prior to enacting any regulations.

Eley of OVTA called Springboro’s moratorium “another misguided policy” and said the city should focus on age-21 tobacco enforcement and other laws on the books.

He said OVTA represents 1,200 to 1,400 “mom and pop” small businesses, not large chain retail outlets.

“The city is unfairly targeting a specific business and stopping adults from buying less harmful vapor products,” Eley said. “These (vapor products) are sold in every convenience store, drive-throughs, state liquor stores and gas stations, and they are helping smokers switch to something less harmful. How that benefits public health is beyond me because it doesn’t promote public health.

“If Springboro wants to put a moratorium on cigarette sales, then I will believe what they’re saying about public health,” Eley said.

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