Montgomery Co. could ban vape shops from selling e-cigarettes near schools

Vaping has become a popular option for people trying to quit cigarettes, but there’s a push in Montgomery County, Maryland, to limit how much access kids have to e-cigarettes.

The Montgomery County Council is considering a package of regulations that include three bills that would stop manufacturers of e-cigarette products from selling to retail stores within a half-mile of middle and high schools, keep flavored products out of stores within a mile of elementary, middle and high schools, and limit the sale of e-cigarettes and tobacco products to anyone under 21.

If passed, vape shops within the prohibited zone would also be required to shutdown within 24 months if not in compliance with legislation.

During Tuesday night’s public hearing, 12-year-old Madeleine Wenk expressed her support for the legislation.

“Our schools and neighborhoods will be healthier and safer,” she said. “With no vape stores, fewer kids would have access.”

Jennifer Danish, a board member with the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington, voiced her support for the bills and encouraged council members to take it a step further.

The current legislation defines a vape shop as an establishment that devotes 51% of its floor area to the sale and display of e-cigarettes or allows vaping on-site. Danish said any retailer that sells or distributes the devices should be included.

“This would preclude the corner market and other retailers from selling e-cigarettes,” she said. “We are seeing an alarming rise in e-cigarette use by teens and preteens.”

But James Collins, a resident who uses e-cigarettes, disagreed with the move, saying the bills wouldn’t stop teens from vaping since most teens are not allowed in vape stores. He also stressed the potential impact on small business owners.

“The bills would potentially close down 19 small businesses, result in the unemployment of over 100 people, discourage people from quitting smoking and cause others to go back to smoking tobacco cigarettes,” he added.

The package has received unanimous support from the council and will now go before the Health and Human Services committee for consideration.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2020 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up