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Retailers Cited for Illegal Sales

The Fall River, Ill. Board of Health placed 30-day tobacco sale suspensions over the heads of four businesses after they were cited a third time for selling tobacco products to a minor. The suspensions will take effect if a fourth violation occurs. A fifth store needed only to pay the $200 fine imposed for a third offense.

The board's hearings stem from its Tobacco Control Program conducting compliance checks in September. Five of the businesses that sold tobacco to minors were cited twice earlier. As a result, each was fined $200. Tobacco Control Program Director Joseph Borges said all five paid the fine, according to the Herald (Ill.) News.

The businesses cited for third offenses following the compliance checks are: Main Shell Food Mart, Hess Mart, Fall River Texaco and M&S Liquors. Board of Health Chairman Rick Sahady recommended in each of the four cases that the business' license to sell tobacco be suspended for 30 days, but not to be executed unless a fourth offense occurs. The fifth store, Mutual Gas and Mini Mart, does not face the loss of its license.

Representatives from the five retail establishments had to appear before the board to explain what they are doing to remedy the problem. The board has the ability to suspend their license to sell tobacco if the companies fail to present a specific plan to crackdown on underage tobacco sales.

Explaining his motion in the first four cases, Sahady said he was encouraged by "corrective action" being taken by the violators to see that there are no further problems, the report said.

Officers with the Police Department's Community Policing Unit accompany the Tobacco Control during its compliance checks. They do not enter the store with the youths, but are there to verify that the store failed the compliance check if tobacco is sold.

Rodney Ferreira of the Hess store told the Herald News he has replaced six clerks in the past 18 days because they failed to adhere to store policy concerning tobacco compliance. Also, he said he has put in place a policy that apparently has been adopted by many local businesses where everyone is "carded, whether they are 60 or 90 or police officers." To accomplish this, he said he posted a very visible sign that reads: "No ID. No tobacco."

Roger Thibault of Main Shell Food Mart said he now also has a sign posted that everyone is carded before buying tobacco. He said his employees used to get a "hard time" from people being asked for identification when they obviously were well over 17 years of age.

But he suggested that because many other businesses are adhering to the same policy, people expect it and are more cooperative with clerks. "This process is working," he said.
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