Increased Sanctions for Illegal Tobacco Sales to Young People The

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					Increased Sanctions for Illegal Tobacco Sales to Young People The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008
Introduction • The Department of Health underlined its commitment to take action to prevent young people purchasing tobacco through strengthening sanctions against retailers who repeatedly sell tobacco to individuals under the legal age in the Choosing Health White paper (Department of Health, 2004). Retailer sanctions were included in Section 13 of the Health Act 2006 and the legal age of sale of tobacco was increased from 16 years to 18 years on 1st October 2007. However a survey undertaken by LACORS (2008), which examined test purchases by young people under the supervision of trading standards officers, revealed an almost two-fold increase in illegal sales of tobacco to minors in the six months following the increase in legal minimum age (October 2007 to March 2008) compared to the equivalent period in 2006/7. Further to this, new retailer sanctions for the persistent sale of tobacco products or cigarette papers to young people under the age of 18 years come into force on the 1st April 2009. These will be in addition to the existing penalties for selling tobacco products to minors i.e. a fine of up to £2,500.

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New Sanctions • Trading Standards routinely conduct supervised tobacco test purchase operations with retail outlets in line with intelligence data. They also undertake underage sales training and wherever possible support businesses to comply with the new law. The new sanctions will only be sought where there is documented evidence of persistent illegal sales of tobacco to young people based on a ‘three strikes’ principle. This is classified as a conviction of making an illegal sale to a young person under the age of 18 years (including a sale from a vending machine), and at least two occasions of similar offences within a 2 year period. The latter need to be documented but do NOT need to have resulted in conviction and may relate to either the premises or to a named person. The Local Authority may then apply to a Magistrates Court for a restricted premises order or a restricted sale order. In certain circumstances both may be made. Any actions taken by the Local Authority prior to the 1st April 2009 will not be used as evidence of previously committed offences.

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Restricted Premises Order • A restricted premises order prohibits the retail business at the location where the offences took place from selling tobacco products for a period of up to 12 months, 1

Jo McCullagh, Tobacco Control Programme Manager February 2009

determined by the court. This means that tobacco or cigarette papers cannot be sold from the business premises. However, it does not affect sale of tobacco products within the same group or chain. For example, where a National company is the subject of a restrictive premises order, it will only apply to the specific location where the illegal sales have taken place. • A restricted premises order is a local land charge, which is noted on the land registry. Therefore, although a business with a restricted premises order can be sold to a new owner, the banning order will remain in force until the end of the specified period. For example, if the prohibition period is for six months and the business was sold after four months, the new owners would be unable to sell tobacco or cigarette papers for two months. It is an offence for a business that has a restricted premises order to sell tobacco or cigarette papers to anyone. The maximum penalty for breach of this order is a fine of £20,000.

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Restricted Sale Order • A restricted sale order prohibits a named person within a business from selling tobacco or from having any management role in any premises relating to tobacco sales for a period of up to 12 months, determined by the court. This means that the business premises may continue to sell tobacco products but the named individual may not. The order will apply to the named individual regardless of where they are employed. Businesses should therefore confirm whether new staff are subject to a restrictive sale order as part of their recruitment process. The penalty for breach of a restricted sale order is a fine of up to £20,000.

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Preventative Strategies There are several steps that businesses can take to avoid selling tobacco products and cigarette papers to young people under the age of 18 years: • • Prominently display the statutory signage that indicates the 18 years age restriction on tobacco products. If there is any doubt about the age of the customer, always ask to see a valid photo proof of age card such as a driver’s licence, current passport or PASS accredited proof of age card. If there are any doubts regarding the validity of the proof refuse the sale. Train all staff in this policy, whether part-time, family or long serving members. Maintain records of when training has been undertaken and repeat at regular intervals. Implement a refusals register to record when refusals to sell tobacco products are made. This would contain a record of the date and time of refusal, the member of staff responsible and brief details of the attempted purchase. This will highlight staff members that rarely refuse sales and the requirement for additional training.

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Jo McCullagh, Tobacco Control Programme Manager February 2009

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Instigate a restricted age 25 policy. This entails assessing the age of customers buying tobacco or cigarette papers and routinely asking those who look younger than 25 years to produce their proof of age ID. This policy has been widely adopted by businesses retailing alcohol as a means of eliminating illegal sales to the under age.

References Department of Health (2004) Choosing Health – Making Healthier Choices Easier. London: DoH. LACORS (2008) Test Purchasing of Tobacco Products, Results from Local Authority Trading Standards, 1st October 2007 to 31st March 2008: www.lacors.gov.uk

Jo McCullagh, Tobacco Control Programme Manager February 2009

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