New restrictions proposed for smoke and vape shops in Huntington

Huntington City Council may be changing regulations on smoke and vape shops in the city.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 11:07 PM EDT

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Huntington City Council may be changing regulations on smoke and vape shops in the city.

A spokesperson with the city says this is being considered because of a rapid increase of these types of businesses.

At Monday night’s council meeting, City Planner Jenny Lockman said most businesses that sell goods are classified as retail, and a new ordinance would create a separate classification for vape, smoke, and tobacco stores.

“We identified at least 13 existing businesses that would be classified as smoke shops/tobacco stores,” Lockman said as she addressed council members.

The first reading of the ordinance took place Monday night that would not allow new such stores to open within 1,500 feet of schools, day cares, or existing vape or tobacco businesses.

Existing locations would be grandfathered in and wouldn’t have to make changes. However, if they’d want to expand, they would be subject to the new rules, and if an existing shop closes, it would need to be within the new regulations to re-open.

Council member Pat Jones says he’s not interested in restricting commerce, but he doesn’t want to see any of these shops near where kids get their education.

“I would not restrict anybody’s ability to open a shop, but they need to be in compliance with the law that we’re passing,” Jones said. “The ordinance we’re passing prevents it from occurring close to a school where impressionable children can be lured and enticed into using their product.”

WSAZ reached out to managers at several of those shops in Huntington. They said they hadn’t heard about these potential changes yet and didn’t want to comment.

The second reading of the ordinance is expected to take place at the next council meeting in June.