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Board of Health suspends retail tobacco licenses, administers fines

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  The Revere Board of Health recently focused its attention on the sale of cigarettes to minors under the age of 21.

  At a meeting earlier this month, board members heard a report from Bonny Carroll, director of the Six-City Tobacco Initiative, which uses undercover, underaged customers to determine if retailers are following state laws that regulate tobacco sales. During December, five local businesses were found in violation of those laws. Carroll said they were issued cease and desist orders, fined $1,000 and had their tobacco sales license suspended for three days. The owners of several of the businesses were at the meeting to appeal the fines and suspensions.

  Attorney Cosmo Karololos, who represented Gio Liquors, explained the facts surrounding the violation. Karalolos said his client had been in business on Broadway for four years with no prior violations. The employee who failed to check an ID and made the sale was relatively new and has since been fired. Karalolos also presented Gio Liquors’ plans for compliance, which include employee training, an employee manual and software that can scan and check IDs. Karalolos asked that the $1,000 fine be remitted.

  Dr. Drew Bunker, chairman of the board, said Gio’s response was what health officials hope to see in the wake of a violation. You’ve done everything you could do, he told the owner of Gio’s. However, he said the board would have to move forward with the fine and suspension. “I don’t feel good about it, but unfortunately, we have to follow the law,” he said, adding that the city could find itself in legal trouble if they didn’t.

  According to Carroll, the new state law requires that anyone buying cigarettes or tobacco products must present an ID, no matter their age. Speedway, Beachmont Liquors, State Road Liquors and Olympia Market were also found in violation of state tobacco laws. She distributed signs and information for retailers about how to check IDs.

  Bunker said the board understood that mistakes happen but the violations were something the board takes very seriously.

  “The law is the law, and we have to abide by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and what the City of Revere has adopted,” said Michael Wells, the city’s director of inspectional services. “It’s steep and I think why they made the fines so steep is so people learn from their first violation.”

  A second violation carries a $2,000 fine and a seven-day suspension. A third violation means a loss of a tobacco sales license.

  Members voted unanimously to uphold the fines and suspensions.

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