Forsyth County commissioners altered the scope of a proposed ordinance to regulate “non-traditional” tobacco pipes Thursday after a first public hearing.
The new code would require stores to obtain a license from the county to sell bong pipes, hookahs or other similar devices.
County Attorney Ken Jarrard gave a presentation on the concerns associated with non-traditional pipes and how Forsyth can address the issue separate from existing state regulations.
Jarrard cited studies showing youths who smoke tobacco from water pipes are more likely to use illegal drugs, and findings that younger age groups are more likely to think tobacco smoking is less harmful from a hookah.
“The public policy concern is one that’s been expressed at least one time prior by this board of commissioners with respect to the proliferation of illegal substances among minors,” he said.
Jarrard referenced a county ordinance prohibiting synthetic marijuana with compounds not already regulated by the state.
The county cannot make something illegal already regarded so by the state, and it cannot regulate something that the state does, like the regulatory fee for tobacco product sales, Jarrard said.
The non-traditional tobacco paraphernalia ordinance evolved as a way for the county to address the businesses offering such items for sale.
On Thursday, commissioners changed the initial proposal by striking a requirement that stores keep a record of names and addresses of those who purchase a non-traditional smoking device.
The board also added a provision requiring the pipes be stored out of plain view.
The cost for the license has yet to be determined, but Jarrard said it must be reflective of the county’s administrative and regulatory costs.
Planning director Tom Brown said he would review the issue and provide an estimate of cost to issue and monitor the licenses.
The second public hearing will take place June 6. Jarrard said a third hearing would be required if the board keeps the shielding language in the draft after the second hearing.