At its Monday night meeting, the City Council voted to approve an urgency ordinance to stop the approval of new business licenses to e-cigarette retailers, drug paraphernalia retailers and smoke shops for at least the next 45 days. Jim Basham, the city's community development director, said the ordinance was prompted by an increase in e-cigarette inquiries by potential business owners and was needed to give staff more time to research the e-cigarette business.
The vote makes Seal Beach the first city in Orange County to place restrictions on e-cigarette shops.
"It’s a precautionary measure," Basham said. "It will afford staff more time to research the new and growing trend of electronic cigarettes..There are a lot of pros and cons."
E-cigarettes are battery operated devices, filled with liquid nicotine as an alternative to tobacco which create a vapor inhaler. Supporters say e-cigarettes are a healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes.
"Our real goal is to provide a bridge to help people stop smoking," Towers told the City Council. "We want to partner with the city and assist in creating reasonable guidelines to govern our type of business so it will be operate responsibly."
"We plan to operate our small business with the class and respect Seal Beach deserves and commands," DePalma added.
Seal Beach already has nine retailers selling e-cigarettes, but city officials said there are currently no laws on the books related to governing e-cigarette shops.
Mayor Gary Miller said he supported the urgency ordinance because surrounding communities and legislators have also raised questions about e-cigarettes.
"I think it's a good idea to give staff more time to research and come back to us with knowledgeable information about the business of electronic cigarettes," Miller said.
In February Senate Bill (SB) 648 was introduced to extend the restrictions on the smoking of tobacco products to e-cigarettes. The bill is currently awaiting a green light from the state Assembly.
A public hearing will be held on Sept. 23 for the Seal Beach City Council to decide whether to extend the ban on e-cigarette vendors for an additional 10 months and 15 days.
What do you think about e-cigarette shops in Seal Beach? Tell us in the comments.
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