Smoke Shop Opening Concerns Parents

Reported By James Arellano 

Concerns have been raised about a new smoke shop opening in the Madison Center, which has been accused of using its location to get closer to a younger audience. After the closing of the Boost Mobile store at the Madison Center, The property was bought up by Smokerz Paradize, a large smoke shop chain with 18 locations in San Antonio. 

Parents have expressed their concerns to the school principal. An anonymous parent decided to comment on the shop’s location. The parent claimed, “I’ve been picking my son up from [the parking lot] since he was a freshman and I think it’s strange to open a smoke shop in an area of predominantly teenagers, it’s obvious who they’re trying to promote to.”

 Despite their concerns, the school is unable to take any action over the establishment. “Our authority only goes to the curb, we can’t do anything about a private business.” Principal Wernli said.

In a congressional record from February 2023, Congresswoman Jackson Lee described vape companies using their marketing to appeal to younger demographics. “Like candy, they are being offered with enticing flavors such as strawberry, iced apple mango, and pineapple lemonade; just what a child would look at. Each product is cleverly designed to easily fit in one’s pocket. These products are sleek, affordable, pocket-sized, and highly accessible to our youth. A single disposable device can contain enough nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.” “According to the Centers for Disease Control 2022 National Youth  Tobacco Study, usage of these products is up 2,188 percent since 2019.”

One would think smoke shops would have similar zoning laws to liquor stores and headshops. According to the City of San Antonio’s Business Zoning Laws, Alcohol Sales can’t be sold for consumption on or off any property located within 300 feet of a church, school or hospital and a head shop is not allowed within 1,000 feet of property zoned for residential, churches, hospitals, community centers, museums, parks or schools. 

The same can not be said for smoke shops, however, as the city currently has no zoning laws against the sale of tobacco. So the smoke shop has no legal issues with being there. “I’ve told parents to call their city councilman to talk about implementing zoning laws, some of them have started petitions too.” Mr. Wernli said. “I think the chances of change are low but we can hope.”

The school continues to make attempts to discourage vaping. Stated on the Madison website: “Vaping has become epidemic with our teens. It is something we address on almost a daily basis.  In addition to our concern over the health risks this behavior poses, we have seen several students expelled for the possession or use of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)” 

After last years house bill 114, getting caught with either a vape or THC cartridge will result in either a ten or 45-day suspension(previously students caught with a non-THC vape weren’t sent to alternative.) Despite hard consequences, students continue to get sent to alternative school for having such items. “It’s frustrating. It’s already hard enough to deter students from vaping, then this store pops up with neon signs selling them.” Mr. Wernli said.

According to an NEISD interview with KSAT news, Last year, of 1,482 total discipline conferences, were 666 related to THC.

So what can the school do about the issue of vaping? “We as the authority can only monitor and control so much, teenagers are going to make their own decisions.” Mr. Wernli said. “We try to work with the principal advisory committee to come up with ways to promote ways to be a positive influence on campus. Whether that’s beautification and trying to build student engagement with activities. We think a good way to start is to get students thinking about the positive aspects of school life.” Mr. Wernli stated. “But it’s also up to students to speak out against it.”

While nothing can be done about the business’s location, The store clearly states that individuals under 21 cannot enter the premises and IDs will be checked.  The school hopes that the smoke shop will strictly enforce this policy to prevent underage customers from accessing tobacco products.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *