Northland District Health Board were disappointed to see retailers continuing to sell cigarettes to minors after they conducted a controlled purchase operation (CPO) involving several Whangarei retailers last week.
CPO’s are conducted throughout the year using children aged below the legal age of 18 to approach retailers to purchase tobacco products under controlled conditions. The volunteers carry no identification and are required to tell the truth about their age if asked by the retailer.
Of the 15 retailers tested in Whangarei, three retailers were found in breach of the Smokefree Environments Act 1990, which prohibits the sale of tobacco to anyone under 18 years of age.
Any breaches of the Act can result in an instant fine of up to $1000. Details regarding the retailers who sold cigarettes to a17 year old will be forwarded to the Ministry of Health for a decision on further action which may include prosecution of the retailer.
Northland DHB Smokefree Officer, Jo Dones says the Public Health Unit has been running CPO’s for many years and it is clear some retailers aren't complying with the law and are prepared to risk prosecution.
“If they look under 25, ask for photo identification, no photo identification, no sale. It really is that simple. The Smokefree Environments Act 1990 is not new legislation and all business operators have legal obligations under the act.”
All district health boards conduct regular CPO’s, one of its principal aims is to protect children from developing an addiction to tobacco and further operations are planned throughout the Northland.
Any retailers requiring assistance with staff training and information can contact Smokefree Officers, Northland District Health Board (09) 430 4100.