A tobacco controlled purchase operation held in Mid Canterbury this week saw three tobacco retailers sell tobacco to a 15-year-old.
Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says seven of the 10 retailers visited correctly asked the 15-year old for identification. When none was produced the seven retailers refused to sell cigarettes.
“Checking photo ID is an essential part of modern retail practice,” 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.”
“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.”
Dr Humphrey says further monitoring checks will continue across Canterbury to make sure retailers continue to obey the law.
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. Under an Infringement Notice, the fee is $500 in the case of an individual or $1000 in the case of a body corporate. In the case of a successful prosecution, the maximum fine which can be ordered by the Court is $5000 for an individual or $10,000 for a body corporate.The Ministry of Health now have 30 days to decide upon the appropriate penalty for the three retailers that broke the law by selling tobacco to a minor.
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