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Prosecutions to follow TV underage tobacco sales

Media release

18 September 2006

Prosecutions to follow TV underage tobacco sales

The Director General of Health has confirmed that the Ministry is preparing prosecutions against retailers who were recently shown on TV selling cigarettes to people under the age of 18, including one selling a single cigarette.

Stephen McKernan says "Where retailers are caught breaking the law, we will prosecute. We have had around 20 prosecutions so far this year and another 20 are underway.

We are stepping up Controlled Purchase Operations, where underage volunteers try and buy tobacco, including single cigarettes.

Mr McKernan says, "Ideally, we wouldn't catch out anyone, because these are not trivial matters. Tobacco is an addictive and deadly drug that kills around 5,000 New Zealanders every year."

"These retailers are clearly putting their own personal profit ahead of the future health of our young people. My message to retailers who flout the law is that we will catch you, and when we do we will prosecute you."

There are around 10,000 tobacco retailers in New Zealand. Stephen McKernan says "There is no problem with the significant majority of tobacco retailers. But we recognize that we cannot be everywhere and we do rely on members of the community to report any concerns they may have about tobacco sales to a Public Health Unit or the District Health Board for us to follow up."


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