Trading Standards clamp down on illegal sales
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Checks took place in which two 16 year old volunteers were sent in to various outlets across South Gloucestershire to purchase tobacco. Nine out of ten businesses refused to sell tobacco to the volunteers.
One retailer did sell a packet of hand rolling tobacco to the volunteers without asking them for any proof of age and we have since written to the retailer to advise them of their duty to check. Under the Children & Young Persons Act 1933 it is illegal to sell tobacco products and cigarette papers to anyone under the age of 18. Retailers who are prosecuted can face a maximum fine of up to £2,500 for breaching the legislation.
Chair of Communities Committee, Cllr Claire Young, said: “The health of our young people is a priority for South Gloucestershire Council and we will take any necessary action to restrict access to tobacco. I am pleased to see most retailers refusing to sell tobacco to the young volunteers. We will continue to work with businesses to further improve these compliance figures in the future.”
The test purchase took place on Saturday 22 September and officers will be carrying out further checks on age restricted products in the run up to Christmas.
During another test purchase operation earlier this year, one retailer in Pilning has been successfully prosecuted for selling tobacco products to under 18s.
A.R. Shamim Limited trading as Pilning and Redwick Post Office Stores was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,600 by North Avon Magistrates’ Court on Friday 21 September after being found guilty of two offences under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 for selling hand rolling tobacco and papers to a male test purchase volunteer aged 17 on January 28th.
Trading Standards officers had previously advised the business about ensuring staff members were adequately trained to prevent the sale of age restricted goods such as tobacco.
It was held that the business did not have a sufficient due diligence system in place to prevent the sale of tobacco to young persons. The court heard that the seller did not have a written training record and that she had received only very brief verbal training. She had not been advised which forms of identification were acceptable, nor was she aware of the ‘Think 25’ policy the business claimed to operate and she had not been instructed to log instances where the sale of age restricted products had been refused in the ‘refusals register’.
Speaking after the case concluded, Strong, Safer Communities Manager, Mark Pullin said: “Smoking has both short and long term implications to youngsters’ health. I sincerely hope that the business learns from this and puts procedures in place, such as a stringent staff training system, in order to prevent future sales.”
South Gloucestershire residents or businesses who wish to report underage sales of age-restricted products can call Trading Standards on 0845 040506, or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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