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Owner Convicted of Selling Illegal Tobacco

18 October 2006

Auckland Dairy Owner Convicted of Selling Illegal Chewing Tobacco

The Ministry of Health has successfully prosecuted an Auckland dairy owner for illegally selling chewing tobacco.

The dairy owner from Avondale, Auckland was convicted and ordered to appear for sentence within 12 months, if required. The Ministry has been awarded $1,130 in costs.

The conviction follows a Ministry-led Controlled Purchase Operation for chewing tobacco in June last year. The purpose of the operation was to find out if some Auckland retail outlets were selling chewing tobacco under the counter.

The Ministry of Health's Graeme Gillespie, Group Manager of Environmental Health Policy, says since 1999, the Ministry and Auckland Regional Public Health Service has been aware that chewing tobacco has been illegally imported from India and sold in grocery stores and dairies.

"The Ministry and Auckland Regional Public Health undertook an educational campaign to ensure retailers knew their legal responsibilities and the associated health risks like oral cancer, which come from consuming chewing tobacco."

Graeme Gillespie says, "last year however, we were made aware that chewing tobacco was still being imported and sold under the counter, which is why we undertook more active enforcement."

Mr Gillespie says oral cancer is significantly higher amongst chewing tobacco users.

"We hope this sends a clear message to other retailers that the illegal sale of chewing tobacco will not be tolerated and we will continue to take strong action for identified breaches of the legislation. The Ministry will also continue working with border agencies to stop the importing of chewing tobacco."

ENDS

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