City cracks down on single cigarette sales | News
The practice of selling individual cigarettes from a pack – loosey cigarettes –has been commonplace in Cleveland neighborhoods for years. Not only is the practice illegal, but it adds to a number of public health issues including underage smoking.
An ordinance, introduced by Councilman Zack Reed, unanimously passed at council’s Dec. 6 meeting. The law will crack down on the illegal sale of loosey cigarettes and expands the city’s authority on imposing fines beyond the police department to the department of public health.
“This is not a new issue, but one that has been plaguing neighborhoods across our city for a long time; and one I have been working on since I began serving on Cleveland City Council,” said Councilman Reed. “This new ordinance expands the ability to crack down on illegal sales and imposing fines beyond the Cleveland Police Department to the department of public health the ability to go after and fine establishments who are selling cigarettes illegally, and who are targeting the sale of loosey cigarettes to minors. This practice is not only illegal, but unethical and impacts the health of residents.”
In October, Cleveland Police conducted a sweep of 13 stores in which five were caught selling loosey cigarettes to undercover officers. These merchants break a pack of cigarettes and sell individual “looseys” anywhere from 50 cents to $1. This process contributes to underage smoking and a host of health problems.
Merchants can make double, or more, the cost of the original pack – tax free. It's a fourth-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine starting at $100. It is also against state and federal law to sell anything less than a full pack of cigarettes. This ordinance will broaden the city’s ability to monitor and fine establishments who violate the law.