Enforcement Action Leads to Decrease in Cigarette Sales to Under 16s

>> 11 October 2015

The number of retailers selling cigarettes to children during enforcement activity by Aberdeenshire Council Trading Standards officers has fallen.

Local authorities have a duty to work under the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010 to prevent the sale of tobacco to children.

This involves investigating complaints about alleged offences and taking measures to reduce the number of offences.

Scottish Trading Standards services are working with the Scottish Government to increase enforcement activity to help reduce availability to young people.

In the year up to March 2015, officers in Aberdeenshire conducted 64 test purchase visits using 16-year-old volunteers. A total of 5 sales were made, 7.8% of the test purchases, resulting in warning letters being issued to retailers and their staff. In the case of two repeat sales of cigarettes and cigarette papers, a Fixed Penalty Notice was issued to the retailer.

The previous year, 59 test purchases were carried out, resulting in 16 sales (27%).

Infrastructure Services Committee Chair, Cllr David Aitchison, said:

“These figures show a downward trend in retailers either willing to sell, or inadvertently selling, cigarettes to under-18s, which has to be commended.

“This shows a considerable improvement over the last two years in Aberdeenshire and while it may be too soon to predict a continual decline, across Scotland as a whole there is some indication the activities of trading standards officers are having a positive effect.”

Vice-chair Cllr Stephen Smith added:

“We have to work to continue this trend, enforcing national legislation locally so that we support efforts to prevent young people from taking up smoking.

“Selling cigarettes to young people purely to make a profit at the expense of their health cannot be condoned and I’m glad local retailers are taking that message onboard.”

Trading Standards staff carried out 138 visits to tobacco retailers this year to inspect premises and provide help and advice on complying with legislation.

Advice was issued to 6 found not to be displaying statutory notices regarding underage sales. This is a 9% reduction on the previous year.

Following a campaign launched in March 2012 in conjunction with Aberdeen City and Moray councils to highlight the issue of illegal tobacco sales, 11 reports were received during the year providing information about alleged sales of counterfeit cigarettes.

These were investigated and two reports submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

Members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee have agreed a continued programme of enforcement and advice for the coming year, including further test-purchasing by 16-year-olds.

Activity will also include inspections of premises where tobacco is sold and surveillance of premises where complaints or other intelligence indicates tobacco products may be being illegally sold, including the use of social media sites.

This year the trading standards team will also try to raise awareness of the legislation as it applies to purchases of tobacco products by and for under-18s at and around schools and further education institutions.

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