Recent Articles

Recent Comments

« | Main | »

Paraphernalia shops threatened by negative perceptions

By Hempology | August 29, 2007

San Gabriel Valley Tribune, CA
28 Aug 2007
Tania Chatila


LA PUENTE – Planning Department officials say they need more time to determine their stance on “smoke shops” in La Puente.

Staff members are recommending the City Council vote today to extend an existing moratorium on the establishment of tobacco stores by one year to further research any potential adverse effects on the community.

“Our concern, or the city’s concern, is that the inventories that these smoke shops include may include items that can be used for drug use, like glass pipes and hookahs and other accessories that can promote use of drugs,” City Planner Guillermo Arreola said.

The city first established a temporary ban on smoke shops – or stores that exclusively sell cigars, cigarettes or tobacco-related items – last year.

Since then, staff members have been researching the standards surrounding cities set for such businesses. 

There are currently no smoke shops in La Puente, but more than a dozen San Gabriel Valley municipalities – including San Dimas, Pasadena, El Monte and Azusa – allow them in commercial retail zones, city reports said.

“According to the response we got by conducting the research there doesn’t seem to be any problems caused by these in other cities,” Councilman Louie Lujan said.

Glendora, for example, has four smoke shops, at least one of which has been in the community for more than a decade, said Stan Wong, Glendora’s interim director of planning and redevelopment.

“As of yet we have had no complaints so obviously we don’t see it as a problem,” he said.

But staff members are concerned with the experience two out-of-area cities have had with the businesses.

Citrus Heights, in Northern California, and El Cajon, near San Diego, have reported significant problems with smoke shops, Arreola said.  The two cities have imposed strict developmental regulations for such retailers.

“We don’t want to increase exposure to minors of illegal drug paraphernalia,” Arreola said, adding that while selling a pipe intended for tobacco use is not illegal, it could promote use of illicit drugs like marijuana.

Rio Fiumara, owner of Marty’s Cigars in Glendora, said he disagrees with the negative perception of smoke shops and said he does not feel they negatively affect communities or teens.

“I could only name about three places that I’m aware of that do sell that kind of paraphernalia,” he said.

Fiumara’s shop, which is across the street from City Hall, sells cigars and related accessories.  His store also includes four designated areas where clients can lounge and smoke.

“This is not a head shop,” he said.  “I don’t have any such paraphernalia.  …  I have people come in three, four times a month asking for that stuff but I don’t sell it.”

While Lujan said he would support an extension of the current moratorium, he agreed more research needs to be done.

“We want to make sure we’re not treating any one type of business unfairly simply because a perception of negativity is out there,” he said.

Arreola said he hopes to have a more completed staff report with a recommendation on smoke shops back before the council by the end of the year.

“I think it’s important to look at any and all data to come to a conclusion, however I want to make sure any conclusion we come to is based on data that comes close to home,” Lujan said.

Topics: Articles | Comments Off

Comments are closed.