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Retailers sell cigarettes to minors in Hamilton

Twelve tobacco retailers in Hamilton City area sold cigarettes to underage volunteers in a tobacco controlled purchase operation by Waikato District Health Board’s Public Health team.

145 retailers in the Hamilton City area were visited the week of Monday 27 May 2019 with two volunteers aged 16 and 17 years old, attempting to buy cigarettes from retail premises under the supervision of Public Health Unit employees.

Smokefree enforcement officer Pania Te Haate said ideally we would have liked there to be no sales at all, but we are pleased that the majority of retailers asked the volunteer for their ID, and did not sell to the minor.

Retailers are advised to always ask anyone who looks younger than 25 years for identification when selling tobacco products. The only acceptable forms of identification are a New Zealand drivers licence, passport, or a suitable 18+ card.

All businesses selling tobacco products need to be certain of their obligations under the Smoke-Free Environments Act, and pass on this important information to staff members.

Background information

Controlled purchase operations are conducted by smokefree 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 team will continue to monitor retailers of tobacco products, conduct education/compliance visits and carry out further controlled purchase operations in the future.


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