SHOPS in Hucknall and the rest of Ashfield passed with flying colours during an undercover sting operation on the illegal sale of cigarettes to under-18s.
Notts County Council’s trading standards department worked with volunteers aged between 15 and 17 on a ‘test-purchase operation’.
They targeted newsagents, grocers, petrol stations and small supermarkets in the districts of Ashfield, Newark and Sherwood, Broxtowe and Bassetlaw.
Of the 57 premises checked, illegal sales were made to the young volunteers in nine.
The sales took place at five shops in Bassetlaw, two in Newark and Sherwood and two in Broxtowe. No sales to under-18s were made at the premises tested in Ashfield.
Owners at the nine shops will now be interviewed by trading standards officers and a decision will be taken on what, if any, action will be taken against them.
Shops can be fined up to £2,500 if found guilty of selling cigarettes to under-18s. If a premises, person or company sells tobacco or cigarette papers to under 18s twice in two years, the county council can apply to the courts for a ‘restricted premises order’ or a ‘restricted sales order’, which can ban the outlet from selling cigarettes completely for up to a year.
Coun Mick Murphy (Con), of Hucknall, lead member for community safety at County Hall, said: “It is disappointing that so many premises in Nottinghamshire have been willing to sell tobacco products to children without challenge, despite clear guidance to the contrary.
“Trading standards work closely with local businesses who want to ensure that they do not sell tobacco to under-18s by giving advice on their legal responsibilities, as well as tips on how to avoid selling all age-restricted products to young people. But while we recognise that most retailers are responsible, we will come down hard on those who flout the law.”
The law also changed this week to make it illegal to sell tobacco products directly to the public from vending machines, regardless of age. Under the change, businesses will be allowed to have cigarette vending-machines but they cannot be accessible to the public.
Anyone who believes a business is selling cigarettes to under-18s or has a vending machine selling tobacco products directly to the public should ring Consumer Direct on 08454 040505.