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Tobacco sold to under-aged customers

6 May 2016

Tobacco sold to under-aged customers in the Tasman and Marlborough regions

Two tobacco retailers were caught selling cigarettes to an underage customer during an operation by the Nelson Marlborough Health Public Health Service last week.

During the ‘tobacco controlled purchase operation’, 46 retailers were visited by a supervised 16 year-old volunteer who attempted to purchase cigarettes at each outlet.

Sonya Briggs, Manager of Environmental Health & Communicable Disease for Nelson Marlborough Health, says that two sales made to the 16 year-old.

“The people that sold the cigarettes to our volunteer have been issued with an infringement notice from the Ministry of Health.

“We would have preferred there were no sales, however generally we are very pleased with this result. The majority of retailers asked our volunteers for identification, which is the best policy. The simple message should always be if the person looks under 25 years, ask for ID. No ID means no sale.”


Controlled purchase operations are conducted by Smoke-Free Enforcement Officers using an underage volunteer to ensure tobacco retailers comply with the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 which prohibits the sale of tobacco products to persons under 18 years of age.

A retailer who sells tobacco products to underage buyers will be referred to the Ministry of Health and will be issued with infringement notices that carry $500 fines.

The Public Health Service continues to monitor retailers of tobacco products who have sold to underage buyers and will carry out further controlled purchase operations targeting those retailers.


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