Almost 50 shop owners and managers from across the borough visited Rochdale Town Hall this week and pledged to continue to show their support for council’s Responsible Retailer Scheme.
Their pledges mean that 180 pledges have now been signed by corner shops, off licences, newsagents and supermarkets to help safeguard young people’s health by stamping out underage sales since the scheme was launched in 2007.
Councillor Cecile Biant, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Regulation, said: “This scheme is a fantastic way for the council to work with retailers across the borough to make a real difference to our young people’s health.
”Underage smoking and drinking alcohol can cause long-term damage to young people which will affect the rest of their lives, while knives, solvents and fireworks can be dangerous if they are not used correctly.
“I was incredibly pleased to see so many new faces agreeing to become a responsible retailer and I look forward to working with them in the future.”
In order to become a member of the Responsible Retailer Scheme, store owners must agree to operate a Challenge25 policy on all age-restricted products including tobacco, alcohol, fireworks, computer games and petrol. In addition, they must ensure they keep a record of any sales or attempted purchases where identification was requested.
Both store owners and their staff are also required to attend regular training sessions on any new laws relating to underage sales and agree that test purchasing can be carried out on their premises at any time. All training sessions attended must be kept in a log, signed by the staff and the trainer.
The scheme has proved a huge success. When 20 responsible retailers were targeted in a recent test purchase exercise, only one sold to the underage volunteers, who were 16 and 17 years-old.
The Responsible Retailer scheme compliments the regular test purchase exercises which ensure the borough’s shops are complying with the law. Stores which sell alcohol and tobacco to underage youngsters could face a fine and have their membership suspended.
A full list of Responsible Retailers can be found at www.rochdale.gov.uk/responsibleretailers
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