The FDA has ordered the Austin Landing Kroger Marketplace to suspend tobacco sales until Feb. 2, records show. FILE

Area Kroger, IGA stores hit by FDA for illegal tobacco sales

Federal officials have suspended tobacco sales at two area stores after violations involving sales to minors and verifying identification.

The Austin Landing Kroger Marketplace and the Monroe IGA Express are the only Ohio retailers currently facing such a suspension, records obtained by the Dayton Daily News show.

The Food and Drug Administration’s action against the Miami Twp. Kroger that began Jan. 7 follows “repeated violations” of federal regulations involving tobacco sales to minors and failing to verify identification for tobacco sales, federal records show.

FDA documents obtained by the Daily News indicate the Austin Landing location and the Monroe IGA on East Avenue are the lone Ohio retailers on the agency’s No Tobacco Sales Order list of 177 sites nationwide dating back to at least January 2016.

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The suspension of the Kroger on Landing Way ends Feb. 2, records show.

The Monroe IGA’s order, which cites selling “covered tobacco products” to a minor and failing to verify ID for the sale of those items, started Jan. 5 and is for 30 days, according to the FDA.

The Kroger “committed five repeated violations of particular FDA tobacco regulations” within three years, FDA records show.

“Under the law, the FDA may pursue a No Tobacco Sale Order…..against retailers that have a total of five or more repeated violations of certain restrictions within 36 months,” Stephanie Caccomo of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco said in an email.

Kroger’s violations occurred from April 2017 to April 2019, records show.

Kroger said Thursday it has taken steps to ensure further violations regarding tobacco sales at the Austin Landing site do not happen.

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“The associates at the store have participated in training exercises to ensure compliance with all state and federal regulation surrounding tobacco sales,” Kroger Spokeswoman Erin Rolfes said in an email.

Rolfes declined comment further on the issue.

Retailers that receive a first FDA No Tobacco Sales Order face a maximum 30-day suspension while a second order carries with it up to a 60-day stoppage, records show.

A third order is punishable by permanent ban of tobacco sales, according to the FDA.

The first violations at Kroger occurred on April 19, 2017, Feb. 2, 2018, and Nov. 5, 2018. The last one came when the FDA went to that site on April 26, 2019, records show.

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“During that inspection, respondent committed a violation for selling cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to a minor,” a complaint dated Oct. 30, 2019 states.

“Specifically, a person younger than 18 years of age was able to purchase a package of Marlboro cigarettes” just after 11 a.m., according to the complaint.

The Monroe store’s last violation came Feb. 11, 2019, when “a person younger than 18 years of age was able to purchase a Black & Mild Wine cigar” just after 6 p.m., FDA records show.

Both Kroger and the Monroe IGA have faced fines for FDA violations. The Austin Landing site faced a $599 penalty on one occasion and $5,705 on another, according to federal records.

The amount of fines the Monroe IGA paid is unclear. But one issue was closed after the business “admitted all of the allegations in the complaint and paid the agreed upon penalty,” according to the FDA.

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