The City of Sugar Land is moving forward with a plan to ban all new smoking-related retail shops within city limits, including tobacco, vape, and hookah lounges. 

The Sugar Land City Council met to discuss amending its development code to remove “tobacco, hookah, and vapor retail store” as a permitted use, effectively banning any new stores, lounges, or bars that primarily sell tobacco-related products from opening. Existing businesses in this category would be allowed to remain in place, but they would be barred from expanding their square footage. This change follows a separate ordinance passed at the end of 2023 that limits where people can smoke outdoors within Sugar Land city limits. 

The ordinance also states that business owners who are grandfathered in can sell their businesses to new owners who would be permitted to continue the business. If the business closes at any time for six months or more, they would forfeit their right to operate and would not be allowed to reopen under the ordinance. Essentially, it would be treated like a new business trying to open. One council member signaled he would push the city, in the future, to change that rule and prohibit a smoke-related business from continuing if it changed ownership at all. 

“I’m glad we’re doing this, I’m excited we’re doing this … for the public’s information, we don’t want vape stores in our city, we don’t want hookah in our city. It’s happening down the street; it can continue happening down the street in our neighboring cities, but we want to keep our citizens, our young teenagers, safe,” Council Member Naushad Kermally said. 

Council Member Jennifer Lane agreed, “This is quite a problem in High Schools, so we need to, as a city, be leaders in our region and our area and the state of Texas to take a stance on vape use and try to put a stop to it because it’s doing nothing but damaging our children … I hope that other cities will follow.”

Kermally and Lane led the charge for this change in the city’s ordinance. 

The reading of the ordinance was approved unanimously and will come before the council for a final vote on April 2. If approved, it would take effect immediately. 

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.

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