2006-07-06 / Top Stories

4 Area Merchants Lose Tobacco Licenses For Selling To Minors

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz last week released a list of 195 "Dirty Dealers" that have had their tobacco retail licenses revoked over the past two years for selling on two or more occasions to teens.

Four businesses in or near Canarsie were cited. Those whose tobacco retail licenses were revoked locally, according to the DCA, were: Ali M. Ahmed, 1430A Rockaway Parkway, Richmond Petroleum, 8913 Ditmas Avenue, Zero to Sixty Car Wash, 8610 Flatlands Avenue and 1380 Starrett Corporation, 1380 Pennsylvania Avenue.

This year, more than 15,000 undercover inspections have been performed by DCA, targeting retailers who sell cigarettes to underage buyers and serving them with significant city and state fines and ultimately, for repeat offenders, license revocation.

"Our Administration is using every tool available to ensure that businesses don't sell cigarettes to kids and it's working," said the mayor. "Most smokers start at an early age, making children the most vulnerable to getting hooked on cigarettes. Through the city's aggressive efforts, 84 percent of businesses inspected did the right thing. But, for those that did not, the message is clear: selling cigarettes to kids will cost you big fines and possibly your license."

"DCA conducted more than 15,000 inspections this year, pounding the pavement every day in each borough, because selling cigarettes to kids is simply unacceptable," Mintz said. "Compliance is high, but when it comes to protecting our kids, it's not high enough. If you see a retailer selling cigarettes to kids, help us stop them by calling 311."

In addition to licensing more than 11,000 tobacco retailers in New York City, DCA runs the Youth Tobacco Enforcement and Prevention Program where teens, ages 15-17, work with agency inspectors to go undercover to curb illegal sales to minors. Accompanied by a DCA inspector, teens conduct routine inspections at stores year-round in all five boroughs.

DCA cites retailers who do not obtain proper proof of identification before making a sale. City fines are $1,000 for the first offense and $2,000 for the second, plus possible license revocation. Licenses are revoked for a minimum of one year. State fines are a maximum of $1,000 for the first offense and $1,500 for each thereafter, plus possible license revocation.

Since the program formally began in 1998, compliance among city businesses has increased by more than 30 percent. Currently, Staten Island has the highest rate of compliance in all five boroughs with 87 percent, followed by Manhattan at 86 percent, Brooklyn and Queens at 84 percent, and the Bronx at 78 percent.

To report a business selling cigarettes to kids, or for more information, call 311, or visit the DCA website at www.nyc.gov/consumers.

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