City Grabs Butts Of Unlicensed Vendors
August 27, 2002 -- City officials have seized 11,800 packs of cigarettes from 40 unlicensed vendors in a crackdown on the illegal sale of tobacco to minors, it was announced yesterday.
Enforcement officers from the Department of Consumer Affairs began confiscating after random sweeps showed that many stores were unauthorized to sell tobacco products.
The city seized 11,871 packs - or 237,420 individual cigarettes - from unlicensed sellers between February 2001 and February 2002, said enforcement officer Panzy Mullins at a press conference where the chest-high pile of cigarettes was displayed.
The crackdown is evidence that Mayor Bloomberg is serious in his "campaign against tobacco," said Gretchen Dykstra, the city's commissioner of consumer affairs. Bloomberg is also seeking to outlaw smoking in all bars and restaurants.
"There are rules and regulations about where the cigarettes should be, obviously laws about signage and not selling to minors," she added.
A public auction of the cigarettes will be held in Brooklyn.
"We're going to sell them at auction about $10 per carton," said Finance Commissioner Martha Stark.
"This will total $13,850 for the city," she added, noting that the taxes on most of the confiscated cartons had already been paid.
Only licensed tobacco sellers will be allowed to bid on the cartons, she said.
Officials plan to continue their use of about 30 young people in their undercover operations to root out vendors selling cigarettes to minors.