Selling cigarettes to children will cost retailers dearly
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A warning has been issued to Tasmanian cigarette retailers that selling cigarettes to minors will cost them dearly.
They have been reminded that selling cigarettes to children carries a $6,000 fine for the first offence and $12,000 for the second offence.
The warning comes after a Department of Health and Human Services operation on the weekend revealed that 63% of supermarkets, service stations, newsagents and corner stores sold cigarettes to minors.
Stuart Heggie, the manager of Environmental Health says the results are alarming and breach the law.
Mr Heggie says retailers should be aware that the fines will have a significant impact on business and that the Director of Public Health is considering the option under the Public Health Act of cancelling tobacco seller licences.
Mr Heggie says the controlled purchase operation run by DHHS last weekend in Southern Tasmania targeted supermarkets, service stations, newsagents and corner stores and found that 17 out of the 27 retailers were willing to disregard the law in relation to selling cigarettes to young people.
Mr Heggie says this is unacceptable and shocking, and legal action will be taken against the offenders for the alleged breaches of the Public Health Act.
Apparently a Quit Tasmania state-wide survey last month found that 17% of tobacco retailers did not comply with the law.
Mr Heggie says retailers need to be aware that the ongoing surveillance of retailers will continue at all times and as it is illegal to sell, lend, give or supply tobacco products to or for use by children, there will be no hesitation in taking legal action.
The prohibition applies to retailers and to other people, including parents, who supply cigarettes to young people.
He says retailers must ask for proof of age before selling cigarettes to any person, such as a drivers licence, passport, key pass identification card, photographic firearms licence or a Tasmanian Government Personal Information Card.
Mr Heggie says addressing the illegal sale and supply of cigarettes was vital to reducing adult smoking rates in the community and the enormous burden tobacco related diseases place on the state’s health system.
He says taking care of young people’s health is everyone’s responsibility and retailers should not fall into the trap of selling cigarettes to minors.
Tobacco retailers who are unsure of any aspects of the legislation relating to the sale of tobacco products to children should contact the Public and Environmental Health Service on 1800671738 or visit www.dhhs.tas.gov.au
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