Two store owners fined for tobacco violations

May 6, 2021

The owners of two Wareham gas stations were fined $300 and $1,000, respectively, for various violations of tobacco restrictions. 

At the May 5 Board of Health meeting, the owner of B2B, the gas station at 3199 Cranberry Highway, was found to be in violation of two tobacco restrictions: Some tobacco-related products were displayed on the counter, and the store was selling blunt wraps, which were outlawed by the town in 2013. 

The store owner said that he had taken over the business in February, and was unaware of the regulations. Health Agent Bob Ethier acknowledged that there had been some confusion around the sale, and the former owner did not fully inform the new one about the required licenses. It came to light during the hearing that the business did not have a local tobacco license, which the new owner assumed had been transferred to him along with his purchase of the corporation. 

The owner was fined $300 and told to come in to get the license within the next seven days.

The owner of 5 Star Gas at the intersection of Cranberry Highway and Main Street was fined $1,000, which is the state penalty for selling flavored tobacco. 

His store was selling three varieties of Black and Mild cigars. Bob Collett, the director of the Cape Cod Regional Tobacco Control Program, said that two of the varieties are considered to be flavored tobacco, while the third is currently being contested in court. 

The owner said that he was explicitly told by the manufacturer of the products that they were legal in Massachusetts, and asked for forgiveness.

The board chose to only issue one fine, rather than two, which was the minimum allowable action by the state. If the board had chosen to issue two fines — one per product — that would have totaled $3,000, as the fines increase with each offense.

Collett said that the owners’ defense of being ignorant of the law was unacceptable, because the privilege of selling tobacco also comes with the responsibility of knowing and following the law.

Dr. Amy Wiegandt, the Chair of the Board of Health, encouraged the Health Department to give out summaries of tobacco-related regulations to those newly permitted to sell tobacco. 

One meeting attendee noted that the application for a permit to sell tobacco includes a line on which applicants are required to attest that they understand and agree to adhere to all regulations.