Antrim and Newtownabbey: warning sent to four retailers after under-age cigarette and vape sales ‘violations’

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A total of 177 visits were made in Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough to tobacco and vape retailers to advise against selling these products to under 18-year-olds, during the first four months of this year, a report to councillors has stated.

The report will be presented to a meeting of the council’s Operations Committee, at Antrim Civic Centre, on Monday evening.

The report indicated in early April, 141 retailers were reminded by letter of the restrictions and informed test purchases would be carried out. Later that month, a test purchasing exercise took place at 15 retailers in the borough by a tobacco control officer accompanied by an under-age teenager.

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During the test, the youth attempted to purchase either tobacco products (cigarettes) or nicotine inhaling products (vapes) resulting in three premises selling vapes and one outlet selling cigarettes without checking for identification.

Selling tobacco products or nicotine inhaling products to a person under the age of 18 can result in a fixed penalty notice of £250. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting ServiceSelling tobacco products or nicotine inhaling products to a person under the age of 18 can result in a fixed penalty notice of £250. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service
Selling tobacco products or nicotine inhaling products to a person under the age of 18 can result in a fixed penalty notice of £250. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service

As a result, a written warning has been sent to each premises that sold a product to the under-age person advising any “future violations” will result in formal action in accordance with the council’s enforcement policy.

Management of the businesses involved have agreed to provide refresher training for their staff. The local authority has warned a further spot check will be carried out.

Throughout the year, tobacco control officers, funded by the Public Health Agency, in each council area, must conduct at least 70 visits to retailers of tobacco and vaping products, including test purchases, to ensure compliance with age-restricted sale legislation.

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Councillors have been reminded The Health and Personal Social Services (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 makes it illegal to supply cigarettes or tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18. Furthermore, as of February 1, 2022, it is an offence under The Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 to sell nicotine inhaling products (including e-cigarettes and e-liquids) to individuals under 18.

It is also an offence for an adult to buy, or try to buy any tobacco products or nicotine inhaling products (including e-cigarettes/vapes) on behalf of someone under the age of 18.

Selling tobacco products or nicotine inhaling products (including e-cigarettes/vapes) to a person under the age of 18 can result in a fixed penalty notice of £250 or a maximum fine of £5,000 if convicted by a court.

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An adult buying or attempting to buy tobacco products or vapes on behalf of a person under the age of 18 can result in a fixed penalty notice of £250 or a maximum fine of £5,000 if convicted.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter