Westport Police Investigate Tobacco Sales to Minors
WESTPORT — Police say a smoke shop in Westport has been selling tobacco to minors.
Westport Police investigators executed a search warrant at 35 State Road at the Cedars Smoke and Vape shop to seize surveillance video from inside the establishment. The business, which is incorporated, is listed as having a president, vice president, treasurer and secretary all in one person’s name, identified as Walid Assi.
The investigation into the illegal sales of tobacco products to underage children began in February 2019 by School Resource Officer Kyle Fernandes. SRO Fernandes encountered several school children who were in possession of JUUL nicotine products on school grounds. Police say these products are known to be abused by kids in general, as assorted JUUL nicotine flavors include lemonade and other marijuana-related “pods” that can be utilized in a vaping instrument.
Throughout the investigation, Officer Fernandes sought the assistance of the Tobacco Control Commission, which regulates businesses and the proper display and sale of tobacco items. Throughout the last month, there had been sales by Cedar Smoke and Vape to children as young as 12 years of age on numerous occasions, according to police.
During this investigation, Massachusetts State Trooper Paul Martin happened to be driving by the shop and noticed a young group of children leaving the shop with smoking products. Trooper Martin spoke with the children, seized illegal items, returned to the shop and spoke with Assi about the improper sale. Assi was argumentative and refused to cooperate.
Westport Police obtained a search warrant to seize the surveillance video inside the store which is believed to have captured multiple controlled sales to underage children during the investigation.
The potential criminal charges include several counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and delivering cigarettes and nicotine to a minor.
Police say the investigation is ongoing at this time, and anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Westport Police Detective Division at (508) 636-1122.
Material from a Westport Police press release was used in this report.