Ward 8 is a vibrant place to live, work, and play. With many small businesses and amenities to choose from. Merriman Valley, Wallhaven, and Pilgrim Square offer incredible options for shopping, dining, beautifying, and more. Lately though, I've noticed an alarming number of stand-alone vape/smoke shops popping up in Ward 8's neighborhood business districts. As I take office as your City Councilman, Merriman Valley hosts two such stores within 100ft of each other, with another due to open in Wallhaven soon.  

To me, this is a public safety concern.  Allow me to explain why. 

Apart from the serious public health risk vaping and flavored tobacco poses to our kids, research is showing stand-alone vape/smoke shops attract crime. These stores are considered "target rich environments" by those looking to burglarize product to resell on the street. We have already seen evidence of this in the Merriman Valley, with the Valley Smoke Shop experiencing a violent robbery November 2023. 

Unlike medical marijuana and alcohol, stand-alone vape/smoke shops are not well regulated in Ohio. Efforts to do so are met with resistance from the Ohio Vapor Trade Association. Yet several sister cities in Ohio, dealing with similar concerns, are taking action. Springboro, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton, recently passed a moratorium on new stand-alone vape/smoke shops until City Council could study how to regulate them to ensure they are not a nuisance to the residents and businesses that surround them. 

I believe it's time Akron considers similar action. What do you think?