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Retailers Continue to Sell Tobacco to Minors

30 October, 2019

Ngā Tai Ora Public Health Northland at Northland District Health Board was concerned to see retailers continuing to sell cigarettes to minors during a controlled purchase operation (CPO) carried out in the Mid-North/Hokianga area, earlier this month.

Under controlled conditions, CPO’s allow compliance testing of tobacco retailers selling tobacco product to underage children.

Of the 15 retailers tested in the Mid North/Hokianga area, three retailers (20 percent) were found in breach of the Smokefree Environments Act 1990, which prohibits the sale of tobacco to anyone under 18 years of age.

Any person who sells tobacco to a minor could receive an infringement fine of up to $1000. Details regarding the retailers who sold cigarettes to a 17 year old have been forwarded to the Ministry of Health for a decision on further action, which may include prosecution of the retailer.

Ngā Tai Ora smokefree enforcement officer, Jo Dones says that CPOs have been conducted for many years and this result shows it is clear some retailers are not complying with the law and are prepared to risk prosecution.

“If they look under 25, ask for photo identification. No photo identification, no sale. It really is that simple.”

Dr Catherine Jackson, Northland DHB medical officer of health, says, smoking is the biggest driver of preventable ill health in Northland and contributes to early death in adults and stillbirth and sudden infant death in Northland babies.

“It is unacceptable that some retailers are contributing to nicotine addiction in young people by selling to under age children.”

All district health boards throughout New Zealand conduct regular CPO’s. One of the principal aims is to protect children from developing an addiction to tobacco.

Further operations are planned for Northland. Any retailers requiring assistance with staff training and information can contact smokefree enforcement officers at Ngā Tai Ora Public Health Northland, Northland DHB on (09) 430 4100.


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