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October 15, 2014

Retailer breaks law selling tobacco to underaged

A tobacco retailer in the Grey District could face a fine of $500 after they were caught selling cigarettes to an underage customer.

During a controlled purchase operation by Community & Public Health held earlier this month, one of the 28 premises visited in the Grey and Westland Districts sold to a minor under 18.

West Coast Medical Officer of Health, Dr Cheryl Brunton, said she was concerned by the sale.

"Retailers must abide by the law. All we are asking is that proof of age identification is requested from customers who appear to be under 25 years of age," she said.

Controlled purchase operations are carried out by smokefree enforcement officers using an underage volunteer. They are a way of ensuring that tobacco retailers comply with the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 which prohibits the sale of tobacco products to people under 18 years of age.

The retailer has been referred to the Ministry of Health and will be issued with an infringement notice that can carry a $500 fine.

The risk of starting smoking is greatest amongst young people. The fewer opportunities young people have to become addicted to tobacco, the healthier they'll be throughout their lives. Dr Brunton urges retailers to take their responsibility seriously.

"The results of these recent controlled purchase operations show that the majority of retailers are doing the right thing. However, Community & Public Health will continue undertaking controlled purchase operations at regular intervals to ensure the law is upheld."

-Ends-

For more information please contact:

Lee Harris,
Senior Communications Advisor
West Coast District Health Board
e: 
t: +64 27 836 1528

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