UPPER MARLBORO—With e-cigarettes rise in popularity in the community, the Prince George’s County Council is looking to find a better way to regulate their uses as well as where and how they are sold. Conucilwoman Karen Toles drafted a piece of legislation to address those issues, but it failed to make the council floor for […]
UPPER MARLBORO—With e-cigarettes rise in popularity in the community, the Prince George’s County Council is looking to find a better way to regulate their uses as well as where and how they are sold.
Conucilwoman Karen Toles drafted a piece of legislation to address those issues, but it failed to make the council floor for approval because of additional regulations added from one draft of the bill to another.
Dealers have sold e-cigarettes without council approval, Toles said. In some cases, dealers will sell single e-cigarettes to buyers and some have even been laced with different drugs.
Dealers have been able to do this, she said, because it is not clear where e-cigarettes can and can’t be sold, but the solution is designating areas where the sale is permitted.
“We haven’t taken a look at this since the 70s. This is really outdated,” Toles said. “It gives us an opportunity to do a little bit more regulation and allow more special exception in the county for them.”
The proposed bill from Toles, CB-92, would provide an amortization period by June 1, 2017 for tobacco shop and e-cigarette shop uses in mixed use and commercial (MUTC) zones throughout the county. This would permit new and existing tobacco and e-cigarette shops to set up on commercial property.
However, the shops must be set up at least 300 feet from any school, library, park, recreational facility and historic site in the county. And no special exception to operate in these zones would be permitted if they are within 2,000 feet of another tobacco or e-cigarette shop.
But there were too many items to take in for consideration at once in this legislation, Councilwoman Dannielle Glaros said. There were just two pages in draft one of the bill, but in draft two there were seven pages with mostly new information, Glaros said.
“Draft two is much broader in its intentions. It’s not primarily with MUTC zones, but draft one is,” Glaros said. “This is way overdue, but given the crunch time we are under we should wait until January to get this right.”
With a little more “finessing,” Glaros said, to the language in the bill, it would be able to pass on the council floor in front of the council as a whole. This draft, however, still needs more work.
It is not exactly clear, she said, where e-cigarettes can be sold at and what products will be included in e-cigarette shops. Some gas station establishments sell e-cigarette shops within 2,000 feet of each other.
Councilwoman Deni Taveras said this legislation is a good start, but agreed with Glaros that further work is needed on the legislation before the council moves the bill out of committee.
The bill would impact her district more, she said, given that Prince George’s Plaza is a MUTC zone. It is not clear, she said, how MUTC zones are affected by the legislation.
“I appreciate where we’re going but I think I need to look at this a little closer given the fact that this would impact my district,” Taveras said. “I need to see how others feel about the situation as well—not just myself.”
Toles’ piece of legislation also needs to be compared to previous e-cigarette legislation proposed by Councilman Todd Turner, Taveras said, because some of it is already addressed in his proposed bill. Turner’s bill would permit the sale of e-cigarettes at facilities such as the MGM casino upon its completion.
Turner’s bill, which moved out of the health, education and human services committee on Oct. 8, would regulate distribution, placement and packaging of e-cigarettes. It would restrict public use in certain areas of the county, including bars.
But still, Toles said, something needs to be done about the e-cigarette shops that are popping up around the county. Whether the solution is small or large, she said, the council needs to act.
“These businesses are popping up and we don’t know that they’re there,” Toles said. “The problem is that there is no way to just control that. It is a lot to digest, I do admit, but it’s something that we should really try to do something about.”