Valdosta City Council considers vape shop moratorium

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 9, 2019

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- The City of Valdosta could be looking to curb vaping. The Valdosta City Council is considering a 180 day moratorium on new vape shop licenses.

The city does not currently have an ordinance specific to vape shops. Instead, they fall under the umbrella of tobacco shop licenses.

On Wednesday, the Center for Disease Control confirmed a second vaping related death in the state of Georgia.

Valdosta city officials said, between public health concerns and potential legislative changes coming at the state level, this moratorium would be a perfect time to give them a chance to see what rules and regulations should be imposed at the local level.

"Local government can't be everything for everybody, but I strongly believe that when something is looking to be unhealthy, cause death, it's something that we should look at, especially if we do not have an ordinance that truly addresses those types of organizations," said City Manager Mark Barber. "All of those dangers and things of that nature, deaths are occurring because of this, and quite honestly it came about so fast with these shops, we really truly do not have an ordinance that addresses vaping and vape shops. This will give us that opportunity to do so."

Charles McCollum co-owns Wanda's Vapor Shop in Valdosta. He said this industry has been around fore more than two decades.

"We didn't have any issues in this industry until last year. That I don't understand, why is everything so bad, why are the flavors so bad that everybody wants to talk about it," McCollum said.

According to the latest CDC reports, THC products play a role in most of the vaping-related lung illness cases.

McCollum said most of those products are tampered with, or illegally sold on the black market. That's why he said it's important to go to a local brick and mortar.

"Everything that we carry in our store is manufactured from wholesalers in the United States, that has been inspected by the FDA," McCollum.

McCollum said, while these products are safer than traditional cigarettes, there are some concerns about the closed pod products, like Juuls. He said these products have high levels of nicotine, as much as a pack of cigarettes, and can be dangerous, especially for young people.

If this moratorium is approved, the city council would not be able to grant any new licenses for 180 days. It would not affect any current establishments.

The city said there are no pending license applications. The city council will meet Thursday.

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