By Dan Metcalf, Jr.
Clipper Online Editor
UPDATE: On Monday, Bountiful City officials reversed course and will allow vapor businesses to remain open through 2014. For details, CLICK HERE.
WOODS CROSS - The City of Bountiful sent a letter to the owners of four vapor shops on Thursday, informing them that their licenses would not be renewed effective January 1, 2014.
The letter, obtained by the Clipper also stated that the city could not issue a license for their business because doing so would violate state law.
The four businesses are Vapor Loc, Vapor R Us, Vapor Dreams and Urban Vapor.
The Davis Clipper contacted the various shop owners and their employees to confirm the letter.
The city's decision to close the businesses came as a shock to the owners, who face closure within 5 days of receiving the letter.
Jen Littlefield and Lewie Lambros, who co-own Vapor Dreams on 273 West 500 South told the Clipper they had no idea why the city would make such a decision after granting them a business license earlier in the year.
The Bountiful letter cited Utah Code 10-8-41.6, which defines what a "retail tobacco specialty business" is, and that such businesses cannot be located within 1,000 feet of any "community location" (school, church, park, library, etc) or within 600 feet of any residence.
Littlefield and Lambros are not sure why the city granted them a license and would then revoke it. When they asked the Bountiful City manager why they had a sudden change of heart, he told them the city got a tip from the Davis County Health Department. When they contacted the DCH Dept. for an explanation, an official told them the city informed them of the violations.
The closure of their business would leave Littlefield and Lambros with no other source of income.
The Clipper also spoke with Vapor Loc co-owner Alexis Martinez, who said the closure of her business might result in the loss of a $130,000 investment.
All the vapor shop owners contacted by the Clipper said e-cigarettes are not tobacco products, and that "vaping" allows smokers to quit without inhaling any smoke, tar or other harmful chemicals associated with incendiary cigarettes and other tobacco products.
The vapor is produced by an electronic device that heats a small amount of water, combining steam, flavors and nicotine to inhale.
Nicotine has been ruled a stimulant by the FDA, which is considering stronger regulations on "vaping."
The Clipper attempted to contact Bountiful City officials for comment without success late Friday evening.
State Representative Paul Ray of Clearfield was the sponsor for 2012's House Bill 95, which required "retail tobacco businesses" to be licensed in the county or city they operate in, and places restrictions on the location of such businesses.
The law was enacted in the spring of 2012.
Ray told the Clipper he drafted the legislation to shield children from becoming addicted to nicotine and other "tobacco products."
When asked why he thought Bountiful would suddenly crack down on the vapor businesses even after issuing them licenses, he told the Clipper he had "no idea," and called the timing "Draconian."
"I heard about the letter on the radio this morning," said Ray.
"I would have contacted them personally and given them a little warning, or an extension before revoking their licenses," Ray added.
Rep. Ray also wondered if the vapor business owners were truthful when applying for their licenses.
Martinez said she and her partner followed the letter of the law during their application process, often conferring with city and county officials to make sure they were in compliance.
All Bountiful vapor business owners who spoke to the Clipper said they intended to take legal action.