For the sixth time this year, the city took up a zoning proposal to regulate the sales of tobacco and e-cigarettes.
Madison’s Plan Commission Monday passed a proposal from Mayor Paul Soglin which seeks to more clearly define tobacco retailers and how they can operate.
The proposal specifically includes vaping in its regulations, which has proved to be a major point of conflict.
The proposal gives clear definitions of tobacco paraphernalia, tobacco retailers and tobacco products, which Soglin believes the city has not yet fully addressed.
The proposal limits where tobacco or e-cigarette retailers can be located, prohibiting them from being within 1,000 feet of schools, day cares, libraries, parks, playgrounds, youth centers and health facilities, according to the proposal.
In a letter to the Plan Commission, Soglin reiterated his support for the proposal, citing the potential health benefits it holds.
“These regulations will ensure that Madison continues to do its part to combat the overall harmful effects smoking continues to have on our citizens,” Soglin said.
At a previous Plan Commission meeting in March, dozens of community members came to speak out against the proposal, however due to the large number of speakers, the meeting ended with no resolution. The proposal eventually made its way to City Council only to be sent back to the Plan Commission once more.
Monday’s meeting brought only one public speaker, Dawn Gundermann, co-owner of Puff Vapor. She spoke in opposition to the proposal and voiced similar sentiments as dozens before her.
Many voiced concerns about the vaping industry coming under attack and continually stressed the opportunities that vaping has provided for those who are attempting to quit traditional cigarettes.
Dozens of comunity members sent email testimony to Plan Commission members urging them to oppose Soglin’s proposal.
Gundermann said the city presented the proposal “as a gift” to local tobacco and vape shop owners, citing there would be less commercial competition between stores and thereby increasing their revenue. However, she said this was not how it was received and said the regulations shed the wrong light on the vaping industry.
“I don’t want to see the tobacco industry targeted as a dangerous tobacco product,” Gundermann said.
The proposal passed in a 4-3 vote with little discussion. It will be heard next by Madison’s City Council.