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Moratorium on hookah lounges, vape shops extended
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Hookah is available at 787 Hacienda on Thursday, May 23, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele

Hall County will not be issuing business licenses to new hookah lounges or vape shops until Oct. 10, after the Hall County Board of Commissioners approved a moratorium on licenses for those businesses Wednesday.

Commissioners had previously approved a moratorium on hookah lounges that was set to expire later this month. They unanimously approved the extension until Oct. 10 Wednesday as part of the consent agenda. The temporary halt on business licenses for vape shops was a new item Wednesday and was also unanimously approved as its own item.

Hookahs are water pipes used to smoke sweetened or flavored tobacco. While unincorporated Hall County does not have any hookah lounges, some vape shops sell hookah products.

There are currently three vape shops in unincorporated Hall.

The moratorium will give county officials time to look at ordinances regulating hookah lounges and vape shops in other jurisdictions and draft an ordinance for Hall. The county does not currently have any rules regulating business licenses for those businesses.

Srikanth Yamala, the county’s planning and development director, said Monday that a restriction on vape shops was added so officials can consider nontraditional tobacco uses in general.

“Because we are updating our ordinance to include hookah lounges, the Board felt to also look at other nontraditional tobacco uses, and the vape shops also fall under the same umbrella,” Yamala said.