Tobacco firm checks if Bury shops are selling cigarettes to kids
RETAILERS in Bury have been tested by a leading tobacco manufacturer to ensure they do not sell cigarettes to people under 18.
Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has launched a £400,000 pilot scheme which involves spot checks in newsagents, petrol forecourts and convenience stores across the North West.
In total, 45 retailers in Bury have been subjected to test purchases, to ensure they challenge 18 and 19 year olds for identification (ID).
The test have been carried out on JTI's behalf by Serve Legal, an independent test purchase service.
The tests have three core elements — compliance testing, staff training and strengthening the "No ID, No Sale" campaign.
However, the tests have been criticised after JTI spent £2 million on newspaper adverts opposing standardised tobacco packaging.
Andrea Crossfield, chief executive of Tobacco Free Futures, said: “Don’t fall for this tobacco industry propaganda. How one of the biggest manufacturers of cigarettes in the world, responsible for millions of deaths worldwide, can claim to protect young people is disgraceful.
“This is a smokescreen. The more JTI can position themselves as the good guys, and make weak claims about age of purchase, the more they distract away from the real issue, which is the ongoing scandal of promotion and marketing of their brands to young people.”
Cancer Research UK held consultations with the Government last year to propose that plain cigarette packaging be introduced in the Queen’s Speech in May.
However, this never materialised, and Ms Crossfield suggested plain packaging must eventually be brought in to stop young people taking up the habit. She said: “Tobacco companies need to replace the one in two customers who die from their addiction to tobacco. Evidence shows that standardised packaging is less attractive to young people and makes health warnings more effective.”
In JTI’s recent survey of 500 independent retailers, nearly a third of respondents (32 per cent) admitted that they did not have any formal training for their staff to prevent underage sales.
According to Paul Williams, JTI’s head of corporate affairs, this is why the manufacturer has introduced the tests.
He said: “In the UK, the good news is the percentage of underage smokers is falling. However, the North West has historically been a region with one of the highest levels of underage smoking.
“JTI’s position is clear: children should not smoke, and JTI is committed to playing a role in ensuring that children do not have access to tobacco products. We are pleased to be able to support retailers and their staff with the tools and training that they need.”
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