After an armed robbery at a Natomas tobacco shop, Councilwoman Angelique Ashby is calling for more restrictions on businesses that specialize in tobacco and smoking paraphernalia.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Ashby showed her fellow council members a photo of a masked assailant armed with a gun who allegedly was one of a trio that tied up a store employee during a Friday night robbery at the Tobacco Plus store on Club Center Drive in North Natomas.
Ashby said that she has been calling for greater examination of licensing and zoning rules for tobacco businesses for more than two years, and asked the City Council to fast track staff recommendations for creating more restrictions on where such businesses could operate and under what special conditions. Ashby said Wednesday she believes “smoke shops” should have greater regulations, similar to marijuana dispensaries, because they present safety and social risks.
“That smoke shop wasn’t robbed because it was a regular store,” Ashby said. “Smoke shops are a problem.”
Ashby said she would like tobacco shops to be required to go through the conditional use permit process so that the city could put tougher standards on them and the community could have more input, including notice on if a shop might open.
She said she thinks limiting the age of those who can enter the stores or keeping them away from schools and other places where kids congregate such as parks should be discussed.
“I don’t think they should be anywhere near kids,” Ashby said. “I don’t want kids after school walking home and be able to walk into a vape shop and buy things.”
City staff is expected to report back on the issue to the City Council in two weeks.