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Irmo council considering possible vape shop ordinance

Council members are meeting Tuesday night and are talking about creating a radius of 1 mile between any new vape shops and schools.

IRMO, S.C. — Tonight the Irmo town council is discussing a possible new vape shop ordinance. This might mean a new norm for any new vape businesses coming to Irmo. 

Council members are discussing how these businesses will function going forward.

"I had a resident who approached me about a tobacco shop that was opening up near a school and asked if there was anything that I could do about it. Turned out that that location was just outside of the town limits, so I worked with the county a little bit, Lexington County. And they said that they don't have any ordinances preventing tobacco shops from being too close to a school," said Erik Sickinger, Irmo town council member. 

This got councilman Sickinger thinking about what rules and ordinances they should make in Irmo. 

"We want to encourage business to come to Irmo. At the same time we have to balance that with public health and common sense. And so the goal is that we set a radius and I think the planning commission recommended a mile for that. We might make that a little bit smaller, a little bit bigger, we'll talk about that tonight," Sickinger said.

The concept is similar to that degree of separation required between a church and liquor store, but between vape shops and schools.

Local vape shop owners feel it won't make much of a difference. 

"If it's one of the things where they're afraid underage kids will come in here and try to buy stuff, I mean, keeping it further from the school is not going to prevent that. They'll find some way, somehow, somebody else to come and buy this kind of stuff," said Francisco Yepez, manager at Dab City Tobacco and Vape. 

Councilman Sickinger tells New 19 it's all about finding a middle ground. 

The council meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. tonight. The second reading will be at the council meeting next month in December. 

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