A test purchasing sting designed to weed out stores selling tobacco to under-18’s has disclosed a failure rate of just over ten per cent.
The North Lanarkshire trading standards officers swoop led to seven stores selling tobacco to the youngsters involved in the exercise - more than double the percentage caught out in the last financial year.
Fourteen fixed penalty notices have been served as a result of the sales which took place during 66 separate attempts to buy tobacco.
In test purchasing exercises under-18’s not legally entitled to buy nicotine products are used to test whether shop staff correctly ask for proof of age before selling.
North Lanarkshire Counci trading standards manager Paul Bannister said: “Paul Bannister, trading standards manager, said: “The results show that Trading Standards need to be ever vigilant in enforcing under age sales laws.
“I would remind tobacco sellers in North Lanarkshire that we offer free business advice and training to ensure that traders are aware of their responsibilities and the steps they can take to ensure no repeat failures.”
He added: ““Any traders unsure of age restricted products legislation or who want some help with training should contact the Trading Standards office.
“If any member of the public suspects that a trader is selling tobacco, solvents, alcohol or other age restricted products to those under age they can also contact us to provide information, in confidence.”
In the last financial year, the test purchasing regime achieved its highest ever compliance rate with only 4.8 per cent of traders selling to under 18s.
The council says it’s still encouraging that the vast majority of traders asked for proof of age and refused to sell to the trading standards “plant”.
Councillor Michael McPake, convener of the infrastructure committee, which oversees Trading Standards matters, said: “My Trading Standards officers will continue to enforce under age sales laws in relation to tobacco, nicotine vaping products and other age restricted items to ensure that young people in the community are protected.
“Our work in relation to tobacco is part of a wider tobacco cessation strategy, working in conjunction with NHS partners, to help prevent young people from smoking and therefore improving the long term health of our residents.”