Sep 21
Tobacco retailers face hefty penalties if they sell tobacco to minors

With the NSW school holidays fast approaching, the Population Health team is reminding tobacco retailers they can be tested at any time, on any given day, to ensure they are not selling tobacco products to people under the age of 18 years.       

NSW Health randomly monitors tobacco retailers throughout western NSW in an attempt to reduce young people’s access to tobacco products through direct purchases, which impacts on the number of young people who take up smoking. 

“The Public Health Act compliance testing is ongoing all year round. Tobacco retailers may not even know they have been tested unless a tobacco product is sold to a minor,” said Coordinator Environmental Health Services,Mr Ingo Steppat. 

“It is important we prevent young people from accessing tobacco products, because many smokers start smoking when they are young and become addicted very quickly.

Under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008, penalties enforceable for selling tobacco products to minors include a maximum penalty of $11,000 for the retailer who sells cigarettes to someone under the age of 18. A second offence could cost the retailer up to $55,000. A conviction for selling tobacco products to a minor can carry an increased penalty for both the business owner and for the employee who makes the sale. Retailers who are convicted will also incur a criminal record.

“When a retailer is found to have sold tobacco to a minor it can be very stressful for everyone involved. We are asking retailers to ensure all staff, especially juniors, are trained in the sale of tobacco products,” said Mr Steppat.

“We recommend ongoing training so staff are well aware of the need to ask for ID if they think anyone is aged under 25 years, and avoid the pain of being in breach of the law.”

Tips for tobacco retailers:

  • Always ask for ID if you think the person is under 25 years of age
    Check the date of birth and photo on the identification card to make sure it is the customer. Acceptable forms of identification include the Roads and Traffic Authority Proof of Age Card, Driver’s Licence, or a Passport. If you think the identification card is false or has been tampered with, then don’t sell. 
  • Train your staff to always ask for ID
    Ensure staff are aware it is an offence to sell tobacco products to people under the age of 18 years. It is very important that staff are regularly reminded of this and taught how they need to ask for ID. Keep a record of all staff training.