New Chicago Vape Shops will Need Permit From City

Credit: Stephen VanHorn

New businesses in the U.S. city of Chicago that get 20 percent of their income from the sale of vaping products will now be required to obtain a special city license. There is no moratorium clause.

The ordinance from 41st Ward Ald. Anthony Napolitano, which passed by voice vote Wednesday, also restricts how closely such shops can operate from each other.

“The devil is always in the details, but a model that permits new stores to open appears more consumer-friendly than the possibility of moratoriums,” said Gregory Conley, director of legislative and external affairs for the American Vapor Manufacturers Association.

Napolitano’s original proposal would have given the City Council authority to place moratoriums in specified areas on future tobacco retail licenses, which are required in Chicago to sell cigarettes, vapes and other smoke products.

The newest legislation, which exempts existing vape shops, comes as the city has moved to crack down on electronic cigarettes, which have lately been a target of a broad coalition of aldermen and Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

But those working in vape shops have countered that their products have helped many adults quit traditional cigarettes, and existing constraints have failed to keep the electronic ones out of children’s hands. They worry the legislation would further hurt small businesses without making a dent in preventing youth addiction.