Proposed legislation that recently passed in the state House of Representatives seeks to bar communities from enacting laws regulating tobacco products.
The proposal, which passed by a 69-37 vote, comes amid Myrtle Beach aiming to do just that.
It would prohibit cities and counties from signing off on laws regarding ingredients, flavors or licensing of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, tobacco products or “alternative nicotine products.”
This wouldn’t apply to laws enacted prior to Jan. 1, 2019.
With a federal lawsuit looming, Myrtle Beach leaders recently implemented a citywide moratorium on vape shops. The ordinance passed the required final reading after Jan. 1.
The moratorium means no new business licenses will be issued through the end of the year for businesses that primarily sell tobacco, CBD items and vape products.
Currently, there are about two dozen of those shops located in the city, according to city planner Allison Hardin.
“This got lumped into the tobacco bill,” Mayor Brenda Bethune recently told the city’s planning commission, who discussed the moratorium, of the proposed state law. She added the proposal has now gone to the state senate.
Bethune has sent lawmakers letters requesting they vote no, she said.
“For us as a tourist destination, these types of entities affect our image more than it does a small rural community that may have one or two (of the shops),” she said. “ I think they fail to realize we could end up with 50 along Kings Highway.”
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