Bountiful e-cigarette shops fighting closure
Court • Attorney plans to buy stores more time against Constitutional, due process issues.
Published: December 29, 2013 12:39PM
Updated: December 28, 2013 09:47PM
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Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Product on the shelves at Vapor Dreams in Bountiful. The city informed the owners of four electronic cigarette store through a Dec. 23 letter that their business licenses will not be renewed for calendar year 2014. The letter says the stores are considered a "retail tobacco specialty business" and violate a state zoning law. The owners say they confirmed with the city that the locations were legal and that they now face financial hardship. Friday December 27, 2013.

Three of the four Bountiful e-cigarette shops that have to close Wednesday have banned together to try to keep their doors open.

An attorney for the three, Walter Keane, plans to file for a temporary injunction Monday morning that will buy the stores 10 more days to appeal the city’s decision. Keane said he hadn’t decided if he will file in state court since it’s a state law or if he will file in federal court and claim his client’s rights are being violated.

This week, all four shops received letters from the city attorney that their licenses would not be renewed for 2014 and must cease operation on Jan. 1. The reason given is that a change in state law bars a retail tobacco specialty business established after July 1, 2012, from being within 600 feet of a residence or within 1,000 feet of a school, library, park or church, among other community facilities.

Owners and operators of the stores say their jobs and investments will be lost, threatening their livelihoods. Three of them — Urban Vapor, Vapor Dreams and Vapor R Us — hired an attorney to fight the closures. “We are in an emergency situation,” Keane said, busy working on the filing Saturday night. He intends to name the state in his complaint, since Constitutional rights, besides due process of law, are in question, he said.

The city did not give the shops enough time to appeal the decision, said Aaron Frazier, director of Utah Vapers, a Salt Lake City-based consumer group that advocates the use of e-cigarettes.

The owner of the fourth shop has a different attorney and has not shared their plans with the other three, Keane said.

Despite the change in the law, four e-cigarette businesses that opened after July 1, 2012, within the prohibited distances were issued business licenses for 2013. City Manager Gary Hill said in a written statement on Friday that Bountiful was unaware of the state restrictions at the time.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

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