Tobacco operation catches one

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A Queenstown retailer was caught selling tobacco to an underage person during a controlled purchase operation in the resort last week.

But 10 other premises did not, a result the Southern District Health Board called “very pleasing”.

The operation was carried out on June 13 across 11 premises in Queenstown, the DHB said in a media release.

Staff at 10 of the stores refused to sell cigarettes to the underage volunteer who had been advised to give their correct age if asked, and was not carrying any identification.

However, a staff member at one of the premises failed to ask the youth for identification and sold a packet of cigarettes.

That meant the seller could be issued a warning or an infringement notice of up to $500 by the Ministry of Health for selling tobacco to a minor.

Smoke-free enforcement officer Stephanie Bekhuis-Pay said it was ”disappointing the youth was sold tobacco but hopefully this serves as a reminder to all retailers that checking for identification is very important”.

”The Southern DHB is very pleased that the other premises complied with the law by asking the volunteer for identification.”

Similar compliance checks would continue across the district in the future, and employers and staff should remain vigilant with their legal requirements in relation to the sale of tobacco, the DHB said.