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Single cigarette sales create a shortcut to addiction

Single cigarette sales create a shortcut to addiction

7 August 2015

Selling cigarettes to young people is against the law and needs to stop if we’re to help them avoid smoking, says the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.

“The price of a pack of cigarettes is high to help discourage smoking, and anyone who sells single cigarettes (to anyone) is deliberately undercutting that barrier and breaking the law.” says Dr Brad Novak, Medical Officer of Health at Auckland Regional Public Health Service. “Nicotine is addictive, and selling single cigarettes gives young people a harmful shortcut to what may be a lifelong smoking addiction.”

Research tells us that 10 per cent of young smokers are addicted within two days of inhaling cigarette smoke and 25% within a month. The last NZ Health Survey showed that most people tried their first cigarette at 14 years of age.

“Three young Maori women are taking a stand against retailers who are putting their own profits ahead of the wellbeing, health and lives of young people. This group lodged a complaint with the Auckland Regional Public Health Service about a West Auckland dairy owner selling single cigarettes.

“We appreciate Tupeka Kore Action Group’s campaign, as it is hard to catch retailers in the act of selling single cigarettes, as they usually sell single cigarettes to customers they know.”

Dr Novak says while we are actively monitoring retailers, we are more successful at catching sales to minors (someone under 18 years of age).

This group of women, with support from Maori health organization Hapai Te Hauora, is raising public awareness of the illegal practice of selling single cigarettes and bringing the requirements of the law to everyone’s attention.

“We’d love to hear from any community groups or individuals who are opposed to this practice and who want to take action. Working together can only help stop these illegal and damaging sales,” says Dr Novak.

“The message to retailers who flout the law is that we will catch you, especially with the help of people like this who are prepared to take action in support of achieving Smokefree Aotearoa 2025.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service, in addition to many routine checks, carries out around 300 special controlled purchase operations a year to check that retailers are following the rules, and in the past year 16 of these led to infringement notices or prosecutions.

Retailers can be fined up to $2000 for the sale of single cigarettes or up to $5000 for sales to minors.

More information related to making a complaint about either sale of single cigarettes, or sale to someone under 18 years of age, can be found at:



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