The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) shuttered a Lower East Side deli on Jan. 30 for multiple tobacco violations, amNewYork Metro has exclusively learned.
According to DCWP sources, 57 Grocery Corp at 57 Pitt Street was forcibly taken out of business for allegedly selling tobacco products without a license, on top of dozens of other violations racked up over the last two years.
Officials say the storefront has been closed indefinitely after the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings found the business guilty of selling such products on at least five separate occasions over the last several years. Making matters worse, the business conducted other unlicensed activity, such as trading in cigarettes which had been removed from the package and thus distributed without a health warning and peddling flavored tobacco products and cigars for less than market value.
To boot, DCWP sources said the business was selling cigarettes to New Yorkers under the age of 21.
“Any business that ignores and violates the law will be held accountable,” DCWP Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga said in a statement to amNewYork Metro. “Tobacco use is a threat to the health of our neighbors, especially our youngest New Yorkers — and selling tobacco products without a license is illegal. As a city, we are committed to protecting the wellbeing of our neighbors and we will not allow businesses to disregard the law.”
DCWP agents forcibly closed the business on Monday, leaving 57 Grocery Corp with its graffiti-tagged shutters down, padlocked, and labeled with a notice reading, “This establishment has been closed for operating illegally.”
Agency inspectors routinely probe Big Apple retailers in an effort to investigate issues relating to licensing, signage, sales to minors, and other compliance issues, according to sources within the department. Since the start of 2020, DCWP has conducted more than 35,000 inspections of tobacco and e-cigarette retailers and issued more than 12,000 violations and since 2017, DCWP has worked to enforce laws they see as safeguarding the health of residents.
According to department data, DCWP has since reduced the number of tobacco retailers citywide by 50 percent.
The department, formerly known as the Department of Consumer Affairs, works to “[enhance] the daily economic lives of New Yorkers,” according to its website, all the while creating “thriving communities.”