Although the county is not issuing business licenses for hookah lounges and vape shops until Oct. 10, officials are considering a new ordinance that would regulate these businesses.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners is set to vote on the regulations on Oct. 10 after a public hearing. A first reading and public hearing will be held Thursday.
The rules will regulate businesses that sell “non-traditional” tobacco and nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, bongs and hookah pipes.
Business owners will have to be at least 21 years old, pass a fingerprint background check and get approval from commissioners after two public hearings. There will be an annual license fee of $2,000, similar to the county’s alcohol sales ordinance.
If the business sells to an underage person, the first violation within a two-year period will result in a mandatory hearing before commissioners, a minimum $500 fine and a license suspension for up to 60 days. The second violation within a two-year period will also result in a mandatory hearing before commissioners, but the business will lose its license and have to pay a $750 minimum fine.
Current licensed businesses will be grandfathered until Dec. 31, 2020.
The county does not currently have an ordinance regulating businesses that sell non-traditional tobacco and nicotine products.
There are three vape shops in unincorporated Hall, and there are no hookah lounges.
Commissioners first ordered a 90-day moratorium on business licenses for hookah lounges on May 23. On Aug. 7, commissioners voted to extend that period until Oct. 10 and added vape shops to the list of businesses that could temporarily not get a license.
Sarah McQuade, the county’s interim planning and development director, said other ordinances in the state were used as models for Hall County’s ordinance.
Hall County Board of Commissioners
When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26
Where: Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville