Lilburn has banned new vape shops from opening in its city limits.
There are currently six shops that primarily sell vaporizers and accessories typically used to vaporize liquids containing nicotine. At least three more had expressed interest in opening stores in Lilburn, a level that leaders thought was too high for the city of fewer than 13,000 residents.
“It was a red flag for me that a city our size would have potentially nine to 10 vape shops,” said Bill Johnsa, Lilburn’s city manager.
Residents have expressed concern about children getting their hands on vape pens and consuming nicotine at an early age, Johnsa said. School resource officers have told Johnsa they regularly confiscate vaping products from students younger than 18 at area schools.
The ordinance passed Monday bans new stores that would dedicate at least 20 percent of their retail space to vaping products or earn at least 20 percent of their revenues from the products. That means businesses that sell vaping products alongside other items are not restricted under the new city regulation.
“We are trying to move away from the standalone vape shops,” Johnsa said. “That’s where we see the issues arising throughout the state and the country.”
Concerns about underage vapers “congregating” at stores that primarily sell vaping products was also a concern of the City Council, Johnsa said.
The city’s six existing shops will not see additional restrictions or regulations under the new ordinance. But if the businesses change ownership or close, their “grandfathered” status would disappear, as only the current shops’ owners are allowed to continue operating, Johnsa said.
Multiple cities in neighboring Fulton County have moved to regulate vape shops. Alpharetta and Johns Creek have discussed instituting bans, and Milton passed an ordinance intended to discourage stores from selling vape products.
The ordinance also includes a ban on synthetic cannabinoids, opiates and cathinodes. The manmade drugs are already illegal under state law, but Lilburn wanted to grant its code enforcement office and police department specific powers to combat the sale of those drugs.
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