The new rules, amending the city’s regulated substances policy, require hookah and nicotine-vaporizer sellers to have in-store ventilation if they allow customers to test products on-site.
They also re-categorized those businesses, using U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines on tobacco products, and restrict them from operating within 100 feet of a school. In addition, sellers of vaporizers and accessories would have to have a tobacco operator’s license.
Ramy Betouni, owner of Vapor Cabin, a chain of electronic-cigarette stores that includes one in Lockport, said he isn’t necessarily against tighter industry rules. However, he said his local council doesn’t understand that vapor devices and cigarettes are not remotely the same.
“The only connection between the two is that they both have nicotine,” Betouni said. “They’re trying to put them together as the same, but they’re not.”
One council member voted against the rules changes because of the ventilation rule, claiming the vapor released by e-cigarettes has not been proven to be harmful, unlike cigarette smoke.
“I don’t think they know the difference,” Betouni said.
“The ventilation part seems fair, but it would depend on what kind of system they’re looking for,” Betouni said. “They make the laws, and we just do our best to follow them.”
— Another Illinois e-cig retailer facing local ordinance issues —