WESTPORT — Operations at a smoke shop located in Westport have been suspended for 60 days by the Board of Health.

The Westport Board of Health conducted a hearing on Monday regarding several violations of underage nicotine sales to minors at Cedars Smoke Shop, located at 35 State Road.  A corporation search reveals that Walid T. Assi, of 187 Thomas Street in Fall River, is the President of Cedars Smoke Shop.

Westport Police initiated the investigation as a result of several students within the Westport Junior and Senior High School being found with various nicotine products on their person.

During the course of the investigation it was learned that students from this district were purchasing nicotine products at Cedars Smoke Shop.  School Resource Officer Kyle Fernandes contacted Marilyn Edge, tobacco control director for the City of Fall River.  Edge also directs a collaborative that enforce tobacco laws for various Bristol County communities, Westport being one of them.

With this information, School Resource Officer Fernandes conducted several compliance checks with an underage individual to purchase various nicotine products.  The business sold to this individual on three different occasions, never asking for any identification.  Edge also did compliance checks of this business and on two separate occasions using an underage person and was able to purchase nicotine products.

At the hearing, evidence was given by Officer Fernandes and Edge regarding the recent compliance checks, as well as an earlier Federal Drug Administration violation which Assi had paid.

As a result of the testimony provided by Officer Fernandes and Edge, the Westport Board of Health made a motion to suspend Cedars Smoke Shop for a period of 60 days.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens, and young adults.  Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, using an e-cigarette is sometimes called “vaping” or “JUULing.” Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. E-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine. Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.  All JUUL e-cigarettes have a high level of nicotine, according to the manufacturer, a single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.

News outlets and social media sites have also reported widespread use of JUUL by students in schools, including classrooms and bathrooms over the past year.