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Peoria imposes 90-day moratorium on new tobacco licenses as city staff crafts new regulations

Teens' use of vape devices is increasing, and they're not always aware if nicotine is in the mix.
Gerald Herbert
Cigarette smoking continues to decline as taxes on tobacco rise.

The Peoria City Council is imposing a 90-day moratorium on issuing new tobacco licenses.

The pause will give the city's legal team the time to craft new regulations as more tobacco stores pop up around the city. There are currently 114 licensees.

Patrick Hayes is the city corporation counsel.

"We're looking in particular as a starting point at the standalone tobacco and vape shops which are proliferating, and to deal with some of the related chaos which occurs at some of the tobacco outlets," said Hayes, who is proposing new classifications for tobacco shops, similar to how liquor outlets are regulated.

At-large councilman John Kelly was the sole opponent of the moratorium at the council's meeting on Tuesday. He said he's not a fan of regulating businesses just because they're not liked, and he thinks there's better ways to deal with the problems at select establishments.

"Increase the penalties. Make the penalties really nasty. And I think that might do the trick as far as these abuses," he said.

At-large councilman Mike Vespa supported the moratorium.

"Tobacco kills, and it's not safe, and maybe it doesn't attract the best clientele for a neighborhood," Vespa said.

He said the ordinance should be narrowly tailored to stores that make 50% or more of their revenues from tobacco sales, so retailers like Kroger or Walgreens aren't affected.

Hayes said the city staff will work to craft an ordinance ahead of the 90-day moratorium's expiration date.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.