HAYWARD -- The city on Tuesday banned opening new hookah lounges and vapor stores that sell e-cigarettes.

The vapor store ban is meant to reduce sales to youths, Linda Ajello, a city planner, told the council. "We do have establishments selling to youth."

The ban does not affect the city's eight existing vapor stores and two hookah lounges but they will have to pay an annual $400 fee, along with the 142 businesses that sell tobacco. The council also prohibited selling single cigars under $5.

A vapor-industry spokesman objected to e-cigarette stores being put in the same category as smoke shops.

"We're in favor of regulation, but we don't want e-cigarettes thrown in with tobacco," said Jim Root of the California Vapor Association. "We need a category of our own." He predicted the ordinance would not hold up to a legal challenge.

New tobacco stores would have to comply with a host of rules approved Tuesday, including no sales of flavored tobacco and not being within 500 feet of a school. Current businesses are exempt from the new rules except for the single-cigar ban.

Flavored tobacco is definitely marketed toward young people, said Councilman Marvin Peixoto.

"Cherry delights, watermelon cigarettes; that's not something I'm attracted to," he said.


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Since the beginning of the year, police sent teenagers into 112 Hayward businesses to buy tobacco or e-cigarettes, Twelve firms were cited for selling tobacco to minors and seven for e-cigarettes, Ajello told the council.

Several cities have tightened rules on e-cigarettes, and the Federal Food and Drug Administration is proposing regulating them same as tobacco products, she said.

Councilwoman Barbara Halliday said she favored prohibiting new e-cigarette stores until the FDA makes a final ruling. However, she said she had heard convincing statements that e-cigarettes help people quit smoking.

"If that is borne out, maybe it will be sold on a medical basis," she said.

The council approved the ban on a 6-0 vote. The rules come back to the council next Tuesday for final approval and would take effect immediately.

"The impact to existing businesses is almost zero," Councilman Al Mendall said. "I think we're striking the right balance."

Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.