LSL Board of Aldermen approve ban on tobacco paraphernalia
By: Michael R. Smith
The Lake Saint Louis Board of Aldermen has approved a ban on the retail sales of “tobacco related paraphernalia” like rolling papers and equipment that may be used by illegal drug abusers.
It does not affect any current businesses and was considered to be a preventative measure to discourage certain types of retailers from entering the city.
The law follows a similar one approved in April by O’Fallon that affects shops where more than 70 percent of their sales are tobacco-related. It allows retailers to continue selling tobacco products while outlawing items often used with illegal drugs such as hookahs, bongs, and pipes.
“Drug paraphernalia is against the law,” said LSL Police Chief Mike Force. However, products for tobacco users can also be used by drug abusers and it’s difficult to show that legal products will be used for illegal purposes, he said. “That’s a hard (argument) to make.”
Force had promoted the bill because without a law he said the city could not prevent the sales of those items nor the businesses that sold them, such as so-called “head shops.”
A purpose of the law, he said, was to ensure that LSL continues “attracting businesses that enhanced this community and didn’t detract from this community. O’Fallon had a very innovative approach to that,” Force said. “They looked at controlling tobacco paraphernalia, recognizing that that’s very often used for drugs.”
Force said that in the last few months he had visited city retailers that were selling many of the types of tobacco products the bill bans and the responses to the proposed law were mostly positive. Most business owners, he said, told him that they didn’t sell much of the products anyway, and the law would give them a reason not to sell it.
He said one business, which he would not identify, perceived there would be a negative impact “any time you take something off my shelves.”
The split vote on the issue was because of Alderman Richard Morris (Ward 3) who felt the ordinance prevented capitalism and free enterprise.