Cigarette sting catches three Tokoroa retailers

Three Tokoroa retailers face censure and a $500 fine after they were caught selling cigarettes to underage buyers.

A sting organised by the Waikato District Health Board involved nine retailers visited by a 17-year-old volunteer enlisted by the board.

Three of the nine sold cigarettes to the teen.

The targeted premises had all been previously visited a few weeks earlier by health board protection and promotion staff, who reinforced the need for identity and age checks.

The managers were told there would be an official check.

Population health smokefree enforcement officer Nick Young said staff at six of the premises visited followed correct procedure and refused to sell cigarettes to the 17-year-old, who was briefed to give his correct age if asked.

Mr Young said he would contact the retailers whose staff complied with the legislation to advise them of their employees' performance.

However, three tobacco retailer employees sold cigarettes to the volunteer and a report on this would now be sent to the Ministry of Health in Wellington.

There is an instant fine of $500.

Mr Young said he was disappointed at the sales. "This is just sloppy.

"I've heard every sob story but there is simply no excuse for this." Further tobacco operations would be conducted, he said, so employers and their staff needed to ensure they were completely familiar with their obligations under the Smokefree Act.

Waikato Times