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Local cigarette retailers continue to break law

Local cigarette retailers continuing to break the law

Two local cigarette retailers approached during a recent purchase operation broke the law and sold cigarettes to minors. Tairawhiti District Health Public Health Unit commissioned the controlled purchase operation on Saturday 8 November and it resulted in two cigarette sales to underage volunteers, from 29 purchase attempts.

Public Health Unit Service Manager Tom Scott said results of the operation were an improvement on the last controlled purchase operation, but there was still work to be done.

“Earlier this year a controlled purchase operation saw four retailers break the law. Those retailers are awaiting prosecution.”

“Since then, despite attempts at educating local retailers, and a reminder that the purchase operation might be carried out, we still had two local retailers break the law.”

On the positive side however, Mr Scott said he was pleased that retailers operating in areas of Gisborne where smoking is prevalent, had refused sales to the underage volunteers.

“Many young people who smoke begin before the age of 16, and many illegally purchase their cigarettes from a shop. If they continue smoking half will die early from a smoking-related disease.” The Smoke-Free Environments Act 1990 bans the sale of cigarettes to minors under the age of 18. Mr Scott said the PHU has overseen five purchase operations in the past four and a half years. During each operation, which uses underage actors to attempt to purchase cigarettes, between 20 and 40 retailers were randomly visited. Each operation had seen between two and four retailers break the law. “Although the sample size of retailers visited this time was small, it is disappointing that two retailers illegally sold cigarettes. In Tairawhiti, where smoking is one of the biggest killers of our local people, there should be absolute adherence to the law.

“We know that refusing sales of cigarettes to young people is tough if they get abusive, but there is the law to comply with.”

“If we can move to a culture where young people don’t bother trying because no one sells cigarettes to them, then it will be easier for everyone”.

Mr Scott said retailers must ask for identification from anyone they consider too young to be buying cigarettes. Retailers who do this, will have no cause for concern. He added that Public Health Unit staff would continue to visit to retailers, offer further education, and give them signs to display regarding the law. “Because of the continued sales of cigarettes to minors further controlled purchase operations will also continue.

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