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Smoking devices ordinance tabled

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Local retailers will have more time to digest proposed restrictions on the display of vape sticks and other smoking transmission devices.

The Crawfordsville City Council tabled on Monday an ordinance that would require retailers serving underage customers that sell tobacco or vaping accessories to place the merchandise in a separate 18-and-older section.

Councilman Jeff Lucas, chair of the Ordinances and Petitions Committee, said postponing a vote would allow time to clean up the wording.

“The ordinance as written was not going to pass,” Lucas said after the meeting.

Part of an effort to curb youth vaping, the proposal aims to make it more difficult for minors to be enticed by or shoplift vape pods and other smoking transmission products.

Retailers would be required to maintain a separate cash register operated by an employee over 21, with the products monitored by security cameras or locked up away from public view.

Violators would face a $2,500 fine with each day establishing a separate offense.

City attorney Kent Minnette said the council had received questions on “how restrictive” the ordinance would be.

“I think there were a lot of merchants and companies that own local retailer outlets that they wanted to see what was being proposed and just had questions about what had been drafted,” Minnette said in an interview.

The ordinance has the endorsement of the Montgomery County Tobacco Coalition, which has examined tobacco marketing practices and youth tobacco use.

“I think it’s a positive thing that the city makes sure that the wording is as strong as possible and that the council feels comfortable about how we’re going to go about enforcing the ordinance, if it were to pass,” tobacco coordinator Autumn Clark said.

The Indiana State Department of Health recently surveyed more than 3,100 retailers in 43 counties about tobacco marketing in Indiana.

More than 90 percent of retailers said they sold flavored tobacco products, which are popular with youth vapers. Nearly a quarter said tobacco products were placed within a foot of candy, gum, soda, ice cream or toys.

The ordinance is expected to return before the council in December.

In other business, the council:

• Passed a resolution approving a tax abatement for BD Fortunes, LLC, a safety equipment business on Corda Boulevard.

• Passed a resolution approving the donation of land next to the Sugar Creek Nature Park to the city.

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