Fourteen out of 55 retailers in North Yorkshire sold cigarettes to a 15-year-old in a recent test purchase conducted by North Yorkshire Trading Standards.
The North Yorkshire Tobacco Control Strategy 2015-2025 aims to inspire a smoke-free generation and one of the key priorities is to prevent children and young people having access to tobacco. Trading Standards undertakes regular test purchasing and a summer survey found that at 26 per cent of retailers tested (14 out of 55 attempts) 15-year-olds were able to buy cigarettes.
Retailers of restricted products are required to have an age verification policy in place. With a strict protocol to follow, the volunteer child helpers who assist Trading Standards are instructed to tell the truth at all times and to provide identification showing their true age if requested. Despite this, in more than a quarter of attempts no identification was asked for and the sale was made.
Councillor Andrew Lee, North Yorkshire County Council Executive Member responsible for Growth, Planning and Trading Standards, said: “This is a reminder of the significant role that local businesses and retailers play in protecting our children’s health by preventing children accessing all forms of tobacco and nicotine.
“Cigarettes are age-restricted to protect the health of our young people and retailers are urged to be aware of the implications of underage sales.’’