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Underage Cigarette Sales Sting Smokes Out Three Retailers

Press release   •   Jul 29, 2014 17:13 BST

Three businesses have been caught selling cigarettes to under 18s during a test purchasing exercise run by Rochdale Borough Council’s public protection team.

Over two days last week two volunteers aged 16 and 17 attempted to buy the restricted products from 20 premises in the borough.

In Rochdale 10 shops were targeted, with two illegal sales made, in Middleton two shops were targeted with no sales made, in Heywood four shops targeted produced one illegal sale and in Pennines no sales were made from the four shops tried. In the survey, 11 of the shops visited requested identification from the underage volunteers.

Criminal investigations against the three retailers will now begin.

Councillor Cecile Biant, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Regulation, said: “Rochdale Borough Council takes any breach of the law regarding underage sales very seriously. We hope this sends the message out to retailers that selling restricted products to children will not be tolerated.”

Premises visited were as a result of complaints or intelligence received alleging underage sale activities, premises from where previous sales had taken place and randomly chosen premises that had not been visited for a period of time, including Responsible Retailer Scheme members.

The Children and Young Person Act 1933 makes it an offence to sell a tobacco product to someone under 18. Rochdale Public Protection encourages traders to operate Challenge 25 which means that they are expected to ask for photographic identification from anyone who appears to be under that age. If a retailer is unsure of someone’s age they should ask to see a form of photographic identification that will prove the customer's date of birth. Once the customer has produced their identification and shown themselves to be over 18, they then can make their purchase.

To report any suspected underage sales please call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.

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