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Forsyth County BOC discusses background checks, age requirements for vape shops

New rules for background checks, visibility and age requirements at stores selling vaporizers and similar products could be coming.

At a recent regular meeting, Forsyth County Commissioners held a public hearing for changes to the county’s non-traditional tobacco paraphernalia, e-cigarettes and alternative nicotine ordinance.

Some of the changes in the ordinance deal with requiring fingerprinting and background checks of those applying for licenses, barring those under 18 from being in stores without a parent or guardian and not allowing stores selling the products to use window tinting or blinds or curtains when open.

When asked by commissioners about covering windows, Amy Konrath, the county’s business license manager, said it was her understanding the rule “was for enforcement purposes so that the sheriff’s office could view the establishment and know what’s going on when they enter.”

Konrath said she believed the rules for minors had been written to bar them from such stores entirely but was changed to not ban them outright from gas stations.

The only speaker for either side of the issue during the hearing was Kirk Wintersteen, who said he was in favor of the ordinance change.

The ordinance will next be discussed at the commission’s July 5 meeting, where it can be adopted if there are no other changes.

District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said she would like the rules implemented at the state level, instead of Forsyth County passing rules and businesses not wanting to abide by them moving to other counties.

“Ideally, this whole ordinance needs to be a state law,” she said. “People don’t realize it, but we’re doing a lot of things that need to be done statewide.”

Mills also raised issues with kids using the products at school, including using THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, vapes and “getting high during class.”

She said she would also like to see the minimum age for purchase go up to 21. County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the county could do so as long as it is not superseded by state law.

“My reasoning is the middle school kids are by and large getting it from the 18-year-olds,” she said. “I’m not saying, we’ll cut them out of getting it, but we’ve got middle school kids that are not urinating all day because of how many people are vaping in bathrooms.”

Last week, the Cumming City Council also adopted new rules for vape shops to prevent the family member of someone who had their license suspended or revoked from getting the same license and to prevent locations with license suspended or revoked from being used as a vape shop again.