The Greenville city council will meet Thursday to possibly vote on a proposal to limit where some tobacco shops can open in the city.
The city defines tobacco shops in two ways.
A Class 1 tobacco shop is one that sells tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, shisha, and similar products. A Class 2 tobacco shop is any establishment that sells tobacco smoking apparatus like water pipes, hookahs, bowls, water bongs, or similar products.
Mayor Allen Thomas says the council is more concerned with Class 2 tobacco shops and their placement.
"Certain items are clearly meant for tobacco products other items and the way that they are used promoted and marketed are clearly meant for other uses which some would probably consider illegal so we're very concerned about that," Thomas said.
Class 2 shops would be limited under new regulations to a 500-foot separation from a single family dwelling, a school, church, or park. Also, no shop could be opened within 1/2 mile of an existing tobacco shop.
Some tobacco business owners in Greenville aren't worried about new rules.
"I think it's a perfect idea. If they limit, it's good for business and good for everybody," Balel Shami said. Shami owns Star 2 Tobacco Shop on Greenville Boulevard.
Shami said there are already too many tobacco shops in the city, and new regulations could help protect current businesses.
However, people we spoke to about this issue seemed to have mixed opinions about the regulations.
"I think it's a good idea. It shouldn't be near churches they should have respect and stay away from the churches and anything dealing with kids," Sharlena Gilbert said.
"Basically I think it's a bad idea because you're getting into moral issues...tobacco has been in North Carolina for close to 200 years if not more and its a culture that we have to deal with. But I quit smoking over 20 years ago when my health became impaired, endangered. I think people have to come to their own conclusion you can't pass a law to make them do that," Bob Gurganus said.
The meeting to discuss this proposal will be held in City Hall Chambers at 7 p.m. on Thursday.