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Latest step in how Gainesville hopes to regulate vape, hookah lounges
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Hemp based vaping luiquids on display Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, at Planet X Smoke & Vape Gainesville. The City of Gainesville has placed a 120-day moratorium on new vape shops while city officials work on regulations for these businesses. The Hall County Board of Commissioners has also issued a moratorium on vape shops through December. - photo by Scott Rogers

Gainesville officials have drafted restrictions on hookah and vape lounges, including banning minors from the businesses.

The proposed regulations include restrictions on hookah lounges or bars, where “patrons use a communal hookah or pipe to smoke,” e-cigarette lounges or bars, where “patrons use e-cigarettes to smoke or smoke other alternative nicotine or tobacco products,” and vapor lounges or bars, where “patrons vape or smoke other alternative nicotine or tobacco products.”

The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board recommended approval of the regulations Tuesday. The regulations were included in a list of several other code amendments that were voted on as one item. 

The City Council will have the final vote Dec. 17.

No one spoke at a public hearing about the regulations Tuesday.

Any hookah, e-cigarette or vapor lounge or bar would need special approval from the Council to open in an area zoned light or heavy industrial. Those businesses could not be within 500 feet of a similar business or within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare, library, church, community or recreation center, liquor store, sexually oriented business, tattoo parlor, pawn shop, bar or nightclub, card room, check cashing business, park or residential zoning district.

The ordinance would apply to businesses opened after the rules go into effect.

People under 18 would not be allowed in, and employees would have to be at least 18.

Food or beverages could not be sold on premises at the businesses, and all vaping or smoking would have to stay indoors.

In October, the Gainesville City Council passed a 120-day moratorium on new vape shops while officials drafted regulations. The moratorium will be lifted if the Council approves the proposed ordinance.

Hall County officials are also working on regulations, and the Hall County Board of Commissioners is set to vote on an ordinance in December. The county regulations have not been announced yet.

Gainesville City Council

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17

Where: Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway

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