MISSION, Kan. — The City of Mission could soon take steps to limit the sale of vape products based on proximity to schools.

During a Finance and Administration Committee meeting Wednesday, city leaders began a preliminary discussion on a plan aimed to reduce youth access to vaping products.

Councilmember Ken Davis has requested the city council consider amending Mission’s zoning code to set certain distance requirements for retailers wanting to sell vaping or e-cigarette products.

The proposal builds off a similar code the City of Shawnee enacted, which prohibits vape shops within 200 feet of property used or zoned for schools, colleges, churches or day care facilities. 

“Any way that we can reduce the exposure of youth to vape products and other tobacco products I think is a healthy thing for our community,” Davis said. 

The state administers licenses to sell tobacco products. However local municipalities have the power to set zoning requirements for businesses located within city limits. 

According to city documents, there are currently nine licensed tobacco retailers in Mission:

  • BP Gas Station, 5500 Johnson Drive
  • Casey’s, 5800 Johnson Drive (This location is not yet open, but has been approved for a license to sell tobacco products). 
  • CBD American Shaman, 6027 Metcalf
  • Crown Liquor & Tobacco, 5044 Lamar
  • Dollar General, 5312 Martway 
  • Hy-Vee (main store), 6655 Martway 
  • Hy-Vee (gas station), 6645 Martway
  • Grand Liquor, 5410 Johnson Drive 
  • Quiktrip, 4700 Lamar

City Administrator Laura Smith said if the city were to move forward with the proposal, existing tobacco retailers would likely be able to continue business as usual. If that business later closes, then the next business to take over that location would be subject to the proposed distance requirements.

“Currently our ordinances restrict smoking in any indoor place,” Smith said. “Oftentimes I think part of the challenge here is, historically with vape shops in particular, they’ve allowed for sort of test-driving of products within the shop. Sometimes that can be a factor in some of the communities.” 

In June, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attempted to ban Juul e-cigarettes from U.S. markets based on the company’s ties to a surge in teen vaping habits. However, shortly after the announcement, a federal appeals court temporarily blocked the ban.

A study released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that roughly 2.55 million U.S. middle and high school students reported vaping in the last 30 days. 

Councilmember Ben Chociej said he supports any effort to reduce tobacco use among teens, but wants the council to consider how proposed buffer zones could potentially affect surrounding businesses.

“I know my daughter’s daycare and another daycare we spoke with have trouble finding places to locate themselves, due to distance requirements for liquor stores and things like that. I want to take care that we wouldn’t be putting an undue burden on these facilities,” Chociej said. 

The council did not take any formal action Wednesday night. Moving forward, city staff will work to compile additional information and suggestions to present at the Finance and Administration Committee meeting in December. 

If city leaders move forward with the proposal, the Mission Planning Commission would likely hold a public hearing on the proposed zoning changes in early 2023. Any recommendations from the committee or planning commission would require approval from the city council before being implemented.