John Pugh calls for local retailers to do more in the fight against sales of tobacco to young people
John Pugh MP has supported an initiative looking at helping local retailers prevent the sale of tobacco products to under 18’s, following news that a number of local stores are at risk of selling the product to minors.
“I can understand the problem . Shop assistants face a real difficulty in identifying ages and may need help.”
A number of retailers in the town recently failed a mystery shopper test run by the Responsible Tobacco Retailing programme, who surveyed the adoption of the ‘No ID, No Sale!’ policy.
Results of the test purchasing were shared with MPs at an event at the Houses of Parliament in December 2016 and revealed that 40% of local stores have been identified as ‘at risk’, meaning a retailer has sold tobacco to a test purchaser without asking for or checking valid ID on two occasions.
Because each test purchaser is aged under 25, an ‘at risk’ result means that the retailer is not using ‘Challenge 25’ best practice and as such could potentially sell tobacco to under-age customers.
Each of the stores identified as ‘at risk’ will now be offered free-of-charge, accredited training from social enterprise Under Age Sales.
John Pugh said: “We all have a duty to ensure that our local young people are protected from products and substances which are age restricted. Retailers play a vital role in the fight against the sale of tobacco to minors, and must act with a high level of vigilance and professionalism when dealing with the situation in their store.
“Knowing that retailers in the local area were identified as ‘at risk’ throughout the mystery shopping exercise shows how needed the Responsible Tobacco Retailing programme is to our community. I’ll be working together with retailers and the Responsible Tobacco Retailing officers to ensure systems are put in place which provide staff with the tools and guidance needed to carry out a safe sale every single time a customer attempts to purchase tobacco.”
Tony Allen, managing director of Under Age Sales, said of the compliance scheme: “First and foremost, the purpose of the Responsible Tobacco Retailing programme is to reduce youth access to tobacco, an issue which all involved parties are in agreement must be tackled. We are by no means trying to catch retailers out with the test purchases; far from it – we simply want to identify those that may be at risk of selling tobacco to children and help them take the necessary steps to protect themselves.