(City News Service)- Payless Smoke Shop, which has three San Diego locations, and Keg ‘N Bottle, which has six San Diego locations and others in National City, La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Rancho Santa Fe, are accused of violating the California Health and Safety Code and the San Diego Municipal Code, according to the complaint filed in San Diego Superior Court.

The City Attorney’s Office alleges undercover investigators were able to purchase flavored tobacco at both retailers on multiple occasions, in violation of the recently enacted bans. On one occasion, a Keg ‘N Bottle store clerk allegedly sold flavored tobacco to an investigator, then told them to hide the products ”in a bag as they exited the store because they were `illegal’ to sell,” the complaint states.

According to the City Attorney’s Office, violations of the law are punishable by fines of up to $2,500 per sale.

San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott said in a statement, ”As a mother and a prosecutor, I am appalled by the tactics of the tobacco industry, which continues to manufacture and advertise deadly products with kid-friendly flavors, like cotton candy, bubblegum, and a wide range of fruits. No wonder 14 percent of high school students report using e-cigarettes.”

The litigation also drew support from San Diego City Council member Marni von Wilpert, who said, “This lawsuit is a big first step for our city, and we look forward to working with our partners across the region and state to put the health and safety of our young people first, and prevent a lifetime of nicotine addiction.”

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