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Northland's tobacco retailers - Encouraging results from CPO

Media Statement

Subject: Control Purchase Operation May 2014

Latest CPO shows some encouraging results from Northland’s tobacco retailers

A controlled purchase operation (CPO) carried out earlier this month by the Northland District Health Board Public & Population Health Unit found only one retailer in breach of the Smokefree Environments Act 1990.

CPO’s are conducted randomly during the year as required by the Ministry of Health, whereby children aged well below the legal age of 18 are used to approach retailers to purchase tobacco products under controlled conditions. If asked, the children involved always state their correct age.

The controlled purchase operation targeted tobacco retailers operating in the Ahipara, Kaitaia, Awanui, Taipa, Mangaonui, Kaeo, Dargaville, Ruawai, Tinopai, Paparoa and Maungaturoto areas.

Northland DHB Smokefree Officer, Wendy Antrobus says the only breach of the Act came following attempts at 39 retailers. This is an encouraging result. It would appear that retailers are becoming more vigilant and requesting some form of identification for customers that appear under age when they ask for cigarettes.

Retailers should always assess the age of teenagers by insisting on a form of photo identification from anyone who looks under the age of 25. “No photo identification - no sale, it is very simple”, says Mrs Antrobus.

The Smoke-free Environments (Controls and Enforcement) Amendment Act 2011 included the ability to issue retailers with infringement notices with a fine of up to $1,000 for selling tobacco products to children under 18 years of age. The ability to issue infringement notices is an alternative to district court proceedings. The changes to legislation also allows for repeat offending by retailers being ordered not to sell tobacco products.

The information relating to the retailer who sold cigarettes to the underage children will be forwarded to the Ministry of Health for a decision on further action.

Regular CPO’s help reinforce the legal obligations of tobacco retailers to make sure tobacco sales are not made to underage customers. This is not about pointing the finger, but is rather about protecting our young people from the harmful effects of tobacco.

Any retailers requiring assistance with staff training and information can contact Smokefree Officers, Northland DHB (09) 430 4100.

- Ends -

Date: May 5 2014

Notes to Editor

• Every year Northland kids as young as seven take their first puff on a cigarette. 7.62 per cent of Northland students smoke regularly compared to 6.8 per cent of students nationally. [ASH New Zealand. 2013. National Year 10 ASH Snapshot Survey.]

• Northland had a total of 147 retailers selling tobacco in their region in 2012. This equates to one tobacco retail outlet per 175 smokers. Nationally there is one tobacco retailer per 129 smokers.

• For the 30 secondary schools in the Northland region 30 per cent had a tobacco retailer within a 500m walking distance of their school, 63 pre cent had a retailer within a 1000m walking distance of their school. National statistics show that 46 per cent of secondary schools have a retailer within 500m and 76 per cent within 1000m. [Marsh L, Doscher C, Robertson LA. Characteristics of tobacco retailers in New Zealand. Health & Place. 2013;23:165-70]

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