No smokes sold to young people

26 September 2017

A workshop for retailers who sell tobacco has had a good result.

In a recent controlled purchase operation, none of the 40 Tairāwhiti retailers approached, sold tobacco products to anyone under 18 years of age.

This is a positive result considering where we were at in January says Hauora Tairāwhiti Chief Executive Jim Green. “A similar operation at the beginning of the year resulted in eight retailers, out of 22 approached, selling tobacco to youth volunteers. That was our worst result ever and really concerning considering our commitment to a Smokefree New Zealand in 2025.

Since January there was some publicity around the poor result and a workshop held with retailers to ensure they were aware of the law, the consequences of breaking it and why it is important not to sell tobacco to young people.

The message has got through, says Dr Margot McLean, Hauora Tairāwhiti Medical Officer of Health.

“Although our youth smoking rates are declining, Tairāwhiti still has one of the highest rates in the country. Responsible retailers play a vital role by making it harder for our young people to buy cigarettes. This will help reduce smoking in our district.”

“We are grateful to the retailers for responding so decisively to the call to improve their processes and to the staff at the retailers who put their learnings into action.”

Controlled purchase operations are done twice a year. Volunteer teenagers, under the supervision of a Smokefree Officer from Hauora Tairāwhiti, visit Tairāwhiti retail outlets. All District Health Boards run tobacco controlled purchase operations regularly, using non-smoking volunteers aged 14 to 17 years of age who attempt to buy tobacco from shops. The Smoke-Free Environments Act prohibits the sale of tobacco to anyone under 18. Hauora Tairāwhiti and the New Zealand Government are committed to a goal of New Zealand becoming smoke-free by 2025.

Further information and free resources on the Smoke-free Environments Act can be obtained from the Population Health Team at Hauora Tairāwhiti’s Community Health Centre, 110 Peel Street. People wanting help to quit smoking should visit the new online and face-to-face smoking cessation service or phone the Quitline on 0800 778 778.