January 16, 2012
The rise is due to an increase in the number of stings performed by minors working with the officers. THE number of Victorian retailers caught selling cigarettes to children in undercover stings has soared by 25 per cent, with almost one in every seven shops tested caught breaking the law.
Last financial year, 335 breaches were recorded against retailers for supplying tobacco to children, up from 270 the year before. The Baillieu government last night said the rise was due largely to an increase in the number of stings performed by minors working with the officers.
But despite the government hailing the increased stings as a ”crackdown”, less than half of retailers caught were fined, with the majority receiving only warning letters. Fines range from $488 to more than $7000 for a body corporate, rising to $70,000 if the matter goes to court.
Health Minister David Davis said the number of shops caught breaking the law showed retailers must be vigilant when children try to buy cigarettes.
”Test purchases over the past year found that almost one in seven retailers either did not do the appropriate age checks, or knowingly sold tobacco products to under-age people,” he said. ”The statistics show that Victoria’s tough tobacco reforms are working, and fewer young people around the state are smoking.”
Children and officers performed 2216 stings last financial year.
Quit Victoria executive director Fiona Sharkey said teen smoking rates were strongly linked to tobacco control activity in the community.