Four Greater Bendigo retailers have been caught selling tobacco products to children under the age of 18 during a crackdown by City of Greater Bendigo Council.
Council’s Environmental Health team resumed post-COVID test purchasing of tobacco in June to remind retailers of their obligations to not sell tobacco products to minors under the Tobacco Act 1987.
Safe and Healthy Environments Manager, Jock Schofield said the City conducted testing of 25 randomly selected retailers resulting in four retailers being caught selling cigarettes to a minor.
“These businesses have now received an official warning notice under the Tobacco Act 1987,” Mr Schofield said.
“Retailers are required to sight proof of age when selling tobacco products to any person they believe look under the age of 25 and the results show that most retailers are asking for identification when selling tobacco products to young people.”
The City undertakes tobacco test purchasing on behalf of the Department of Health, which involves a person under the age of 18 attempting to purchase a tobacco product from a local retailer.
“There are firm protocols for the training and recruitment of minors for test purchasing and how testing is conducted,” said Mr Schofield.
“There is strong evidence that restricting the retail supply of cigarettes to minors reduces the prevalence of teenage smoking and prevents young people becoming regular and addicted smokers.
“The City and the Department of Health are committed to reducing the normality and social acceptability of smoking behaviors through continued efforts including tobacco test purchasing.”
During the past 12 months, Council Environmental Health Officers have also conducted more than 100 onsite educational visits to tobacco retailers to educate them about their obligations under the Act.
“Retailers and members of the public are encouraged to contact the City of Greater Bendigo if they have any concerns or queries about sale of tobacco products and the requirements under the Tobacco Act 1987.”
Retailers found to be breaking the law risk an on the spot fine of $739.68 for an individual and $11,095.20 for a company if found to be selling a tobacco product to a person under the age of 18.