Businesses targeted in underage tobacco sales sting

Guardian News
Guardian News

FIVE shops in Bassetlaw were caught selling tobacco to underage kids during a test purchase operation across the county.

Trading Standards officers from Notts County Council worked with volunteers aged 15 to 17 on the operation at newsagents, grocers, petrol stations and small supermarkets in Ashfield, Newark and Sherwood, Broxtowe and Bassetlaw.

Of the 57 premises checked during week commencing 22nd August, sales were made to the young volunteers in nine.

Two further sales took place in Newark and Sherwood and two in Broxtowe. No sales to under-18s were made at the premises tested in Ashfield.

Owners at the nine shops will now be interviewed by officers and a decision will be taken on what, if any, action will be taken against them.

Shops can be fined up to £2,500 if found guilty of selling cigarettes to under-18s.

If a premises, person or company sells tobacco or cigarette papers to under 18s twice in two years, the county council can apply to ban sales for a period of up to a year.

Coun Mick Murphy, cabinet member for community safety, said it was ‘disappointing’ so many premises in the county have been willing to sell tobacco products to children without challenge, despite clear guidance to the contrary.

“Trading Standards work closely with local businesses who want to ensure that they do not sell tobacco to under-18s by giving advice on their legal responsibilities as well as tips on how to avoid selling all age-restricted products to young people.”

“But whilst we recognise that the majority of retailers are responsible, we will come down hard on those who flout the law,” he said.

Meanwhile, from 1st October, the law will change to make it illegal to sell tobacco products directly to the public from vending machines, regardless of age.

Under the change in law, businesses will still be allowed to have tobacco vending machines but they cannot be accessible to the public.

Anyone who believes a business is selling cigarettes to under-18s or has a vending machine seling tobacco products directly to the public should report it to Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 05.