ROY -- The city has put a six-month moratorium on any new smoke shops opening while it decides what to do with the current ordinance regulating the establishments.
The six-month halt is something the city has done before so that, when ordinances change, there are not more stores or businesses affected than those already in existence.
The issue of smoke shops in the city has come to the forefront recently after some residents, council members and police officers have noticed an increase in crime and illegal sales of cigarette-related items to minors.
Some items sold are also used for illegal drugs, said Police Chief Greg Whinham.
Community and Economic Development Director Tony Reynolds has researched how other cities handle ordinances that would limit shops in close proximity to each other and to schools or churches.
"There is not a lot of information out there about Utah. Most of the information is from California," Reynolds said.
One definition he suggested is that, if a store is less than 10,000 square feet and at least 10 percent of the store is dedicated to the sale of tobacco items, it would be considered a smoke shop.
Another stipulation would be that at least 30 percent of the store's sales are tobacco-related, he said.
"We have to define them somehow," Reynolds said.
Reynolds thinks halting any new store openings is a good idea.
"No one else is knocking on our door," he said of any new smoke shops seeking licenses to open.
"I like the direction we are going because this allows us to step back and really look at things," said Councilman Brad Hilton. "We don't want the shops near schools, churches or that type of thing."
He said that, with the opening of the new WinCo grocery store in the next few months, more strip malls will be opening and the delay will stop another shop from opening until a decision can be made.
"We need to decide how many we want in our city. We don't need that many," Hilton said.
The city now has four smoke shops, three on 1900 West and one at approximately 3500 West.
Many other independently owned convenience stores sell tobacco products as well. Reynolds said those shops will not be affected by the moratorium.