Loose cigarettes | PA via itv.com || LNR Familiy Store, 1010 S. 5th Ave.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
The Maywood Board of Trustees stepped up its ability to go after businesses who flaunt local regulations against the sale of unlawful tobacco products, particularly cigars sold individually which are intended to be sold in packages and cigarettes that are sold without a county stamp, which indicates that the cigarettes have been subjected to Cook County’s cigarette tax.
At a regular board meeting last month, the village board unanimously approved amendments to its code of ordinances to “explicitly state that packs of cigars intended to be sold as a package cannot be broken open for individual resale.” The sale of cigars pried from their packaging was already prohibited by village ordinance. The amendment, however, strengthens the ordinance’s language and makes the regulation more explicit.
Another amendment specifically requires local retail tobacco licensees to comply with all federal, local and state “laws, ordinances, rules and regulations” relating to tobacco sales. The revised language, according to village attorney Michael Jurusik, is designed to make it easier for the village to enforce the rules already on the books.
The village’s ordinance changes come several months after a CBS 2/Better Government Association investigation that found that Cook County has “failed to collect up to $20 million in fines” from businesses that are caught trying to evade the cigarette tax.
According to county records, the investigation found, of the more than $26 million worth of fines it issued over a period of five years, the county has only collected around $6.35 million.
A July 29 memo by Jurusik shows that, between June and July, the village was in the middle of adjucating business license suspensions, revocations or other enforcement actions against at least four local establishments for tobacco-related violations.
In April, the village cited LNR Family Store, Inc., 1010 S. 5th Ave., for selling tobacco products without a county tax stamp. That citation, however, ultimately turned out to be defective. According to Maywood police, the county also conducted its own investigation of LNR and other local tobacco sellers and didn’t cite LNR. Jurusik has recommended that the village conduct periodic inspections of LNR to make sure they’re not violating tobacco regulations.
This year, Sam’s Quick Shop, 1919 St. Charles Rd., paid a $1,000 fine for selling tobacco products without county stamps. Jurusik recommended that the village conduct periodic inspections to make sure Sam’s is in compliance.
After Maywood Produce Market, Inc., 1305 S. 5th Ave., was fined $1,050 for selling tobacco products without the proper license, Jurusik recommended the village initiate the process of suspended or revoking the store’s general business license. The business has also been accused by the village of possessing drug paraphernalia.
Jurusik also recommending revoking the general business license of Maywood Express Mart (formerly Captain Fresh Farms), 1001 S. 9th St. Earlier this year, the village revoked the business license of Captain Fresh for multiple liquor, business and tobacco license violations.
The village allowed a new licensee to operate the store at the same location as long as no former employees and owners (including their relatives) of Captain Fresh worked at the new store.
The village has since gotten wind of allegations that Captain Fresh employees, owners or relatives are working at Maywood Produce. Jurusik recommended the village investigate the allegations and, if they’re true, immediately revoke Maywood Produce’s general business license. VFP