Kids are still accessing cigarettes according to recent prosecutions in the local courts.
Kids are still accessing cigarettes according to recent prosecutions in the local courts. Cade Mooney

Kids still getting smokes

FINES of up to $750 have recently been handed down by North Coast local courts to people who sold cigarettes to a person under 18 years of age.

In NSW, it is illegal to sell tobacco products to people under 18 years of age.

Since January this year, 84 tobacco retailers across the North Coast of NSW were visited to check if they sold tobacco products to children.  On 18 separate occasions the salesperson broke the law by selling cigarettes to a person under 18 years of age.

Greg Bell, North Coast Acting Director, Public Health said asking customers for identification must be part of staff training, no customer identification - no sale. 

"It is deplorable that 19% of tobacco retailers on the North Coast were observed illegally selling cigarettes to children this year,"  Mr Bell said.

These figures show little improvement from 2009 when 22% of tobacco retailers were found to be selling tobacco products to people under 18 years and is an increase over the previous two years sales rates (11% in 2010 and 12% in 2011)

"NSW Ministry of Health is serious about preventing people under 18 years of age from gaining access to tobacco products. In the majority of offences where a young person is sold a tobacco product, the salesperson will have their case heard by a Court of Law," Mr Bell said.

The maximum fine for selling cigarettes to a person under 18 years of age is $110,000 for a company.

Salespeople can expect to be fined up to $11,000 for a first offence and up to $55,000 for a repeat offence.

Along with selling tobacco products to minors in NSW, it is also illegal for people over 18 years of age to buy cigarettes on behalf of people who are under 18 years of age.

"If you're an adult you can be prosecuted and fined up to $2,200 for buying tobacco products for a young person," Greg Bell said.

Detailed information relating to tobacco retailing legislation, smoke-free legislation, tobacco resources and quitting smoking can be found on the NSW Health website.

NSW Health will continue to check that the sale of tobacco products comply with the law.  If a member of the public witnesses the sale of tobacco to someone under 18 years of age, or a person buying a tobacco product for a person under 18 years of age, this can be reported to NSW Ministry of Health on 1800 357 412 or to North Coast Public Health in Lismore on 02 6620 7585.



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