Archive for the tag 'green leaf smokes'

A+ Nail Spa has opened at 1326 Sheepshead Bay Road.

The business represents a full circle for this Sheepshead Bay Road storefront, having previously been occupied by Green Leaf Smokes, a roll your own cigarette place that was shuttered under pressure from a city lawsuit, and, before that, another nail salon.

Glad to see things are back to the status quo…

Apparently, the city is getting roll your own cigarette stores to close faster than you can say “roll your own cigarette stores.”

Green Leaf Smokes opened in late January at 1326 Sheepshead Bay Road, off the corner of East 14th Street. We asked at the time if they were aware of some ongoing lawsuits to such establishments – which sell cheaper smokes than at the bodega because customers roll their own using the stores’ machines – but they didn’t seem concerned.

When their Coney Island Avenue-based competitor was shut down under pressure of lawsuits claiming tax evasion, an employee of Green Leaf told us that they, too, had received some threats from the city.

We have not been able to confirm if the legal threats are the reason for the closure, but it has been the city’s MO to settle the charges against these establishments by requiring them to shut down their businesses and sign an agreement not to reopen.

After less than three months, City Smokes (2695 Coney Island Avenue) has closed for good, following a lawsuit filed yesterday by New York City that the roll your own cigarette business was skirting tax laws. A similar store in Sheepshead Bay has told Sheepshead Bites that he, too, is being threatened by the city.

Lawyers for New York City filed suit against the operators of City Smokes, and a second roll your own cigarette shop in Staten Island yesterday, threatening to collect back taxes for the tobacco sold on premises.

City Smokes is one of several new shops cropping up around the five boroughs that allow patrons to buy loose tobacco, paper and filters, and then use in-store machines to roll them. Since they claim they’re only selling loose tobacco, the industry exists in a legal grey zone, since loose tobacco is taxed at a lower rate. A standard pack at such a location could cost as little as $2.95.

The city, however, doesn’t think it’s so grey. If customers are leaving the store with rolled cigarettes, they argue, then they’re purchasing rolled cigarettes, and patrons should be taxed at the full rate.

“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,” Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo told Daily News.

The city also claims that these shops “cause a public nuisance” by selling cigarettes that have not been certified as “fire-safe” as required by New York State law.

The city previously forced two similar shops – one in Manhattan, the other in Staten Island – to close down in December after threatening to take them to court for back taxes.

A second Sheepshead Bay roll your own cigarette shop is also facing pressure from Bloomberg administration lawyers to close down. The operator of Green Leaf Smokes at 1326 Sheepshead Bay Road told Sheepshead Bites he received a cease and desist letter informing him the city will commence legal action against them in the event of non-compliance.

He declined to be quoted on the matter, but noted that he received the letter two weeks ago and has given it to his lawyer to determine an appropriate response.

A second roll-your-own-cigarette smoke shop, Green Leaf Smokes, has opened up at 1326 Sheepshead Bay Road, off the corner of East 14th Street. It’s the second such business to open in the area, following the November opening of City Smokes at 2695 Coney Island Avenue.

These shops allow customers to come in and pick a blend of “organic” tobacco that is mixed to emulate the flavors of big brands. Customers buy the tobacco loose, purchase papers and filters, and then use the store’s rolling machines to roll up their own cigarettes.

It’s a new type of business designed to get around the high taxes the city charges for pre-rolled cigarettes. However, two of the oldest stores in New York City – one in Chinatown and one in Manhattan – were the target of a city lawsuit claiming they’re illegally dodging the taxes, since customers still walk out of the store with rolled cigarrettes.

We asked an employee of Green Leaf if he was nervous that the city could come after him next, but he said he was unaware of the lawsuit. However, he acknowledged it’s a totally new business model that operates in a grey area, and that, regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, Green Leaf will follow all local laws. Besides, he said, his selling point isn’t the lower taxes, it’s the “organic” and “healthier” nature of his smokes.