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1 in 4 Inverness Retailers Fail Underage Cigarette Test Purchases

16th April 2018

Highland Council's Trading Standards team is reporting poor findings from the cigarette test purchase programme it recently carried out in the Inverness area.

During the recent exercise, while a total of 10 retailers correctly refused to sell cigarettes to a young test purchase volunteer who is under the minimum age of 18, three businesses sold cigarettes to the volunteer.

David MacKenzie, Trading Standards Manager said: "It is disappointing that these three retail premises sold cigarettes to a young volunteer. However, trading standards officers are working with the businesses concerned to prevent such an occurrence from happening again. We are pleased that the majority of the local shops that we checked did the right thing and refused to sell. Businesses should ensure that both they and their staff are aware of the law when selling cigarettes."

Since 1 April 2017, it has been legal requirement for all businesses selling tobacco, cigarette papers or e-cigarettes to have an Age Verification Policy in place and it is an offence to run a business selling these products without an Age Verification Policy.

An Age Verification Policy is the agreed steps that have been put in place by a retailer to ensure that any customer requesting these products who appears to be under 25 is asked for proof of age. Retailers should keep a record of the Age Verification Policy they have agreed and should make sure that all staff are familiar with this.

David MacKenzie added: "We would advise all businesses that they can seek further advice from our Service to ensure they prevent sales to underage persons from occurring wherever possible."

Trading Standards regularly carry out test purchase exercises and the process is very strictly controlled to protect the welfare of young volunteers and at the same time be fair to the businesses involved. Any retailer that sells cigarettes or any other age restricted products to an underage volunteer may receive a warning, a fine or even a period of imprisonment. Furthermore, if they repeat the offence, they can be banned from selling tobacco.

Further information on test purchasing can be found at:

www.highland.gov.uk/agerestrictedsales

 

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