The Canterbury District Health Board is disappointed three retailers sold cigarettes to underage volunteers last month.
Underage volunteers visited 37 retailers during one week in January, with 34 retailers correctly asking for identification and then refusing to sell cigarettes.
The areas covered included Riccarton, Avonhead, Ilam, Hei Hei, Yaldhurst, West Melton, Kirwee, Darfield, Amberley, Hawarden, Culverden, Hanmer and Waiau.
Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says while most retailers are doing a good job, it is disappointing three have sold cigarettes to underage volunteers.
"In the previous 18 months there wasn't one sale to underage volunteers during Controlled Purchase Operations in Canterbury. To have three in a week is very disappointing," Dr Humphrey says. "Retailers who sell products that are harmful to your health need to take their responsibilities very seriously and not put lives at risk in pursuit of profit."
Dr Humphrey says the three sales serve as a reminder to all tobacco retailers to ensure their staff are well trained to ask for ID from anyone who looks under 25.
"Just asking their age is not sufficient. They need to be able to present legitimate identification because once you have sold to one underage person you are likely to attract many more."
The sale of tobacco and herbal smoking products to minors is viewed very seriously and the Ministry of Health's policy is to issue an Infringement Notice or prosecute in appropriate cases. In this case the three individuals who sold cigarettes were issued with $500 infringement notices.
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