Bountiful is a beautiful little suburb nestled in the heart of Northern Utah. It is often called a bedroom community, where busy professionals make a home on the outskirts of Salt Lake City. In recent months, four vaping shops were approved to sell e-cigs in Bountiful with approved business licenses, but new legislation is forcing them out before they ever really get started.
According to local legislation, the e-cig shops violate zoning laws that make it illegal to sell tobacco products within 1,000 feet of public schools, libraries, parks, and churches. Shops are also banned from within 600 feet of any residence. In such a space-crunched suburb, there are very few locations that would fit the criteria to stay open and now the e-cig shops are being forced to move out of their locations in the city.
On December 23, authorities told the e-cig shops that they had until January 1, 2014 to relocate. With only days to make such a huge change, the four businesses really didn’t stand a chance. Luckily, local vapers put heavy pressure on the city council to give a more reasonable timeline to the business owners considering that they were just granted their business licenses. Ultimately, the local law makers caved and said that the shops had one year to move from their current locations.
The laws surrounding e-cigarettes are pretty vague in Utah. Some cities treat them as tobacco products and others do not. The extra year will be highly beneficial to these four businesses so they can work to change local laws and keep their doors open. If nothing else, it will give them time to find an alternate location so they don’t have to close down permanently.
The Bountiful City Council issued the following official notice to e-cig shops this week: “You are put on one year advance notice that unless you comply with state law by December 31, 2014, or the law is changed in a manner that makes your location lawful, or the state law is successfully challenged in court, you should not expect to be licensed or allowed to do business in 2015. In such event, you will then still have the right to appeal to the Bountiful City Council.”
It seems that the City Council has provided some loopholes for the shop owners if they are willing to lobby for changes in legislature or go through the court system to earn the right to stay in business. Either way, the City Council made a good decision in allowing the local shops to continue operating for another year. At first glance this might seem like another unfortunate strike against e-cigs, but it’s actually really a small victory. It opens the door for vaping lobbyists to get to work in Bountiful and throughout the state of Utah.
Do you think Utah vapers can successfully change the law in one year so these four vape shops can stay?