Gas stations and convenience stores carrying non-traditional tobacco products now must adhere to new rules that could affect their alcohol sales.
Forsyth County commissioners voted unanimously to move ahead with code changes that will tie a business’s alcohol license to violations of the recently approved non-traditional tobacco ordinance. County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the move will “add some teeth” to the ordinance.
“You all wanted to treat an impermissive sale of non-traditional tobacco to be the equivalent of underage sales,” Jarrard said to commissioners.
“So, in other words, you are setting the bar such that is a very serious offence that if you have an alcohol license, but then you commit an infraction of the non-traditional tobacco ordinance, then you basically have one of those demerits against you with respect to the alcohol license.”
The new ordinance means retailers who sell non-traditional paraphernalia must pay $2,000 per year and $250 per year “for each additional line of devices” sold.
Device lines are divided into four categories: grinders; storage devices with false or hidden doors or compartments; weighing devices commonly associated with tobacco, vaping or drug use; and torch lighters.
“The definition of non-traditional tobacco paraphernalia includes things such as bongs, hookah pipes, faux jewelry, bracelets or necklaces that are commonly associated with non-traditional tobacco consumption or use,” Jarrard said.
Jarrard said the change will also give sellers an economic incentive to follow the code.
“I think the incentive for the board to do that was the understanding that for many of these vendors the alcohol permit, the ability to sell alcohol, is extremely financially lucrative,” he said, “and if that is on the line, then they are going to take compliance … very seriously.”
Violations include selling the products without a permit, selling to minors, not having inventory behind a barrier and not displaying a permit. Like the alcohol code, there will be penalties for both employees who make sales and the business.
There were no speakers during the meeting’s required public hearing.
In February, the commission approved new fees and licenses for vape shops and stores selling non-traditional tobacco products. The new rules will go into effect in early May — 90 days after commission approval of the original change — to give law enforcement time to get familiar with the new rules.