JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Citing public health, quality of life and aesthetics, the Johns Creek City Council approved a six-month moratorium on accepting and processing new smoke and vape shop business tax certificates and building permit applications at their Aug. 30 meeting.
During his presentation to the council, Community Development Director Ben Song reported that 10 such shops currently exist within Johns Creek and that the city had received seven inquiries for new shops in August.
The proposal suggested a portion of the six-month period be used by staff to research zoning regulation and meet with nearby jurisdictions to discuss the perceived issue.
Councilman Chris Coughlin and Councilwoman Stephanie Endres cast nay votes on the moratorium saying they did not like the precedent set by regulating the free market.
Coughlin also referenced a study out of San Francisco. He said the study showed that when vape products are more regulated, it encourages use of traditional cigarettes.
City Council members have attempted to address the increase in smoke and vape shops within Johns Creek for years, including the implementation of a zoning ordinance in 2019 which backfired.
Song’s report to council members stated that the three-year-old ordinance — which limited a business’ vape and vape-related products to only be sold on 25 percent of their floor space — encouraged new businesses to branch out from just vape shops to vape and smoke shops.
“Additionally,” the report continues, “many of these businesses also include a lounge area in the store to further promote the use of vape products.”
In discussing the moratorium, council members expressed a desire to protect the city’s children from vaping and smoking.
A number of undercover sting operations performed on May 13 by the Johns Creek-Alpharetta-Forsyth County Drug Task Force ended with agents citing employees for selling nicotine and vape products to underage customers.
Lions Vape and Smoke and Cloud 9 Vape and Smoke — both located along Medlock Bridge Road — were cited for violating a city ordinance for furnishing underage customers with vape products.