NORWALK — A proposed ordinance change to regulate smoke shops is on its way to the City Council after unanimous approval by the Planning Commission May 27. The council is expected to review the change at a later date, a commission spokesperson said.
There are currently 11 businesses in the city identified as smoke shops. Those shops may continue to operate without a permit unless there is a major change in the business or size of the building.
The main change will be to allow smoke shops (including those selling e-cigarettes) to operate with a conditional use permit approved by the council in commercial and industrial areas only. Previously there was no specific law covering them and they were allowed in various zones.
Senior Planner Beth Chow, in a written report to the commission, noted the a review of smoke shops has been underway since Sept. 17, 2013, when a moratorium was imposed and later extended. The final extension expires Sept. 15.
The study was prompted by the sudden surge in the sales and use of e-cigarettes, generally a hollow tube with batteries where nicotine juices and other liquids can be installed.
Supporters say there is no health problem as the substance inhaled is not smoke but vapors with specific flavors. Others say e-cigarettes can be abused just like other forms of smoking.