Joliet tobacco retailers soon may need licenses
By Bob Okon email@example.com April 28, 2012 7:28PM
Thomas Thanas, center, Joliet City Manager for the City of Joliet, makes a point during a 2011 public hearing on the city budget at the planning department. He is now advocating more involvement in downtown development. | FILE PHOTO
Updated: May 30, 2012 8:24AM
JOLIET — The city plans to license tobacco retailers, a policy that is commonplace in the Chicago area.
Rafiq Mirza, owner of Tobacco Plus in the Marycrest Shopping Center, shrugged his shoulders when told he may need to get a license to keep operating.
“Every city has licenses, but not Joliet,” he said. “If they charge a reasonable price, like they charge in other cities, it’s all right.”
Joliet plans to charge an annual fee of $100, plus a one-time fee of $75 to fingerprint the owner or resident manager of the shop. Mirza said the fee is reasonable.
A survey of 45 towns throughout the collar counties found only four, including Joliet, that do not license tobacco retailers in some way. The others are Rockdale, Elwood and Downers Grove. Annual license fees range from $25 in Westmont to $500 in Evanston and Highland Park.
Licensing tobacco retailers is a way to control illegal sales of cigarettes and other items to minors, officials said.
“This is not a revenue issue. This is an enforcement issue,” city manager Thomas Thanas said at a meeting of the Joliet City Council Public Safety Committee earlier this month.
The city regularly does enforcement checks to look for stores that sell tobacco to minors. In February, 15 of 107 stores that were checked sold to minors.
Now, the city’s recourse is to arrest and fine the clerk who makes the sale. With a license, Thanas said, the city could threaten to pull the license and stop the store from operating.
The licensing, backed by the safety committee, will next be considered by the full city council. City officials plan to meet with tobacco dealers first and explain the proposed policy.