Pretend naivetÃ© is not savvy. Green Leaf Smokes, a roll-your-own cigarette shop at 1326 Sheepshead Bay Road, has just opened. They’ve done so, even though there is an ongoing — and quite vocal — Law Department campaign to eliminate places of this sort that allow customers to pack their own loose tobacco and to avoid the steep federal, state and city taxes that come with pre-packaged cigarettes.
And, to make matters worse, the new shop is only a few blocks away from another smokes store. Does one Brooklyn neighborhood really need two roll-your-own smokes shops? Smokers who come out of Green Leaf Smokes, and City Smokes on Coney Island Avenue, have managed to grab a pack of cigarettes for as little as $3. They’ve skirted the $7.47 price tag attached to a regular pack of cigarettes and have avoided all of the taxes associated with it.
John Weng, the manager of Green Leaf Smokes, defending the new shop, said,
“When the owner opened this particular shop, he didn’t realize the other ones were getting shut down and thought this area would be a great place for business.”
Really? He hadn’t read any of the local news, decrying this new practice and calling for it to be shut down. He hadn’t heard about the city’s Law Department letter that explained why these shops shouldn’t be allowed?
Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo, explaining the suit recently filed against City Smokes, said,
“These legal actions are part of our ongoing efforts against businesses that think they can invent loopholes to skirt New York City’s tough cigarette laws.”
Let’s hope those loopholes get closed quickly, and that those who want to purchase cancer-causing cigarettes will go back to having to do so within the letter of the law.