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Cabot Smoke Shop license permanently revoked | News

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BEVERLY — The Beverly Board of Health has permanently revoked the Cabot Smoke Shop’s tobacco sales license in downtown Beverly.

In a Dec. 27 ruling, the board said the store repeatedly sold tobacco products to customers under 21 and sold flavored tobacco products, which are illegal in Massachusetts. During a visit to the store at 196 Cabot Street across from City Hall, inspectors found shopping bags and products in the basement and a back room containing over 1,000 products, including flavored nicotine pouches, tobacco flavor enhancers and blunt wraps.

Before issuing the permanent revocation, the Board of Health said it issued two separate suspensions to the company and fined it a combined $3,000 for prior violations. Additionally, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue had issued two suspensions to the store for non-payment of excise taxes.

The board said the violations constituted “repeated, flagrant and serious conduct” by Cabot Smoke Shop and provided “clear and compelling evidence” to permanently revoke its license to sell tobacco products.

Cabot Smoke Shop owner Payal Savalia could not be reached for comment. The store was closed on Tuesday and a company record said its mailbox was full. The lawyer who represented Savalia at the Health Board hearing did not return a message for this story.

In a six-page decision, the board of health said the North Shore/Cape Ann Tobacco Policy Program, which conducts inspections on behalf of local boards of health, found violations of the law of the Condition on three separate visits to Cabot Smoke Shop over the past two years.

On July 13, 2021, a person under the age of 21 was allowed to enter the Cabot Smoke Shop without providing proof of age and was permitted to purchase a tobacco product. The following month, the Board of Health suspended the store’s license for seven days and issued a $2,000 fine, noting it was the store’s second violation in 36 months.

On August 3, 2022, a minor was again allowed to enter the store. When the person asked to buy a flavored nicotine product, a store employee told them to come back in the evening. Three weeks later, the Board of Health suspended the store’s license for three days and imposed a $1,000 fine.

Less than a month later, another compliance check revealed another case where an underage person had been allowed into the store. This time, the person was sold a flavored nicotine product that was not available on the shelf. The report states that the salesperson asked the customer to put the flavored product in her pocket before leaving the store.

Around the same time, the State Department of Revenue, which imposes excise taxes on businesses that sell smokeless tobacco and electronic nicotine delivery systems, conducted its own compliance audit and seized this which he called “untaxed” products in the store. The DOR issued a 30-day suspension of the store’s smokeless tobacco retailer license and a 90-day suspension of its electronic nicotine delivery systems retailer license.

Cabot Smoke Shop appealed both suspensions. But while a final decision was pending, the North Shore/Cape Ann Tobacco Policy Program and the Department of Revenue conducted a joint inspection on October 18, 2022. Inspectors found shopping bags and boxes in the basement and a back room that contained more than 1,000 products, including flavored products and nicotine-containing tobacco, flavored nicotine pouches, tobacco product flavor enhancers, and leaf envelope.

The Cabot Smoke Shop attorney told the Board of Health that the products in the bags and boxes predated the June 2019 change in state law that banned the sale of such products, and that the restrictions COVID had prevented the store from returning the products. to the manufacturer.

The attorney also said the store purchased an ID scanner to help sales associates confirm the age of potential customers, drafted a policy document to help sales reps prevent the sale of products to people under the age of 21 and that a salesperson had been fired for not verifying the age of customers before they were allowed into the store.

The Board of Health voted 2-0 to revoke the license. Board members were Dr. Justin Jordan and Susan Higgins.

Managing Editor Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at pleighton@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

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