MEDIA RELEASES

Retailers still prepared to sell tobacco products to minors

Health Officials were very disappointed three Northland retailers were prepared to sell cigarettes to underage purchasers in a recent controlled purchase operation (CPO).

Conducted by Northland DHB’s Public and Population Health Unit, the two CPOs tested a total of 27 tobacco retailers; 17 in the Kaipara region and 10 in the Mid North. 

Two retailers in the Mid North and one in the Kaipara were found in breach of the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 after selling tobacco products to purchasers under the age of 18.

Dr Clair Mills, Medical Officer of Health says smoking is the biggest single direct contributor to preventable ill health and deaths in Northland. “It's unacceptable that retailers are selling cigarettes to under age young people in Northland today. At least fifty percent of people who smoke will die from smoking related causes. To reach our goal of being smokefree by 2025, everybody has to change their behaviour, including retailers."

Northland DHB Smokefree Officer, Jo Dones says the Smokefree Environments Act 1990 is not new legislation. Retailers should be aware that selling tobacco product to our children is in breach of the Act. This operation revealed that a number of retailers have poor systems in place and considerable improvement is required to avoid further breaches.

“If they look under 25, ask for photo identification. No photo identification, no sale. Make sure the age is calculated correctly when ID is produced. This will prevent sales to our underage children,” Jo added.

All information relating to the sales of tobacco product to the underage volunteers has been forwarded to the Ministry of Health further action. This may include fines or prosecutions and repeat offenders being ordered unable to sell tobacco products. The maximum fine for selling to minors is up to $2,000.

CPO’s are conducted as required by the Ministry of Health, using under aged volunteers who attempt to purchase tobacco products from retailers under controlled conditions.

The aim is protecting our young people from the harmful effects of tobacco. If any retailers require assistance with staff training and further information, contact Smokefree Officers at  Northland District Health Board (09) 430 4100.



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