With a fourth smoke cigarettes shop in Tooele City opening last month, the Tooele City Council is now considering an ordinance restricting the location of new shops that specialize in cheap cigarettes and tobacco-related products.
Tooele City Council Chairman Scott Wardle requested that Roger Baker, city attorney, research and prepare a draft ordinance after Wardle noticed a smoke cigarettes shop opening at 80 W. Vine Street. The shop is less than one block from the city library and three blocks from Tooele High School, and that’s a problem, Wardle said.
“As its stands now, with no restrictions another smoke cigarettes shop could open up across from the USU campus or down at the Overlake roundabout next to an elementary and junior high school,” said Wardle. “That is just not acceptable.” The proposed ordinance is designed not to ban smoke cigarettes shops, but protect the community, according to Wardle.
“These places sell products that are detrimental to youth,” said Wardle. “Research indicates a link between these type of shops and an increase in use of discount cigarettes by youth. Locating smoke cigarettes shops near schools and public places is a way of marketing to our youth.”
The new ordinance would require that cheap cigarette online shops — defined as a shop that sells exclusively or primarily tobacco and tobacco products — be 1,500 hundred feet from schools, residences and public places such as parks and libraries. Existing smoke cigarettes shops would not be affected by the new ordinance.
Councilman Steve Pruden, who works as the director of the LDS Tooele Institute of Religion near Tooele High School, agrees with Wardle’s concern.
“We have an underage smoking cigarettes problem in Tooele. I see students trying to hide behind the Institute building and smoke cigarettes everyday,” said Pruden. “Kids have to walk by these places and they will see every day a message promoting tobacco use.”
And it’s not just tobacco that Wardle is concerned about.
“These places sell other products that are not good,” said Wardle. “The Legislature outlawed Spice, synthetic marijuana, but manufacturers of Spice have found a way around the law by changing the formula. Spice is now being sold again in smoke cigarettes shops.”
Councilman Mike Johnson was skeptical about the effectiveness of an ordinance restricting the location of smoke cigarettes shops.
“If kids want to get tobacco, they are going to find a way to get it,” said Johnson. “Shouldn’t our efforts be focused on education in the community, schools, and in the home?”
Johnson asked Baker to look into the legality of requiring people to be at least 18 years old to go into a smoke cigarettes shop.
Dave McCall, while not opposing the ordinance, urged caution regarding its wording.
“I think we have to be careful about directing what kind of business people can and can’t open up,” McCall said. “It is not that I disagree with the ordinance but we have to be careful about the wording, if we do this what is next?”
The city of Sandy has an ordinance restricting smoke cigarettes shops to areas zoned for industry, Baker said. Sandy is the only other city whose ordinance on smoke cigarettes shops Baker has examined.
State and city codes require establishments that serve or sell alcohol to be 200 feet in a straight line and 600 feet as a pedestrian would walk from a school, church or public place including parks, playgrounds, and libraries.Wardle said he plans to put the smoke cigarettes shop ordinance on the agenda for the Nov. 16 city council meeting.