MORE than 100 retailers have been stung in an operation where teens tried to buy cigarettes.
The 2017 survey used 15 and 16 year olds trained to act as controlled purchase officers as they made more than 1000 attempts to purchase cigarettes across 525 stores.
A Department of Health spokesperson said approximately 10 per cent of purchase attempts during the survey resulted in the sale of cigarettes to a minor.
“This is a significant improvement when compared to 2015 which was 16 per cent,” they said.
In 2013, 42 per cent of shops visited sold cigarettes to a child, which was down on the 53 per cent in 2004 and 70 per cent in 2002.
The spokesperson said the survey was conducted to demonstrate the propensity of tobacco sellers to sell to minors and there was no penalty applied for sellers during the survey.
“If a sale was made to a minor during the survey, the tobacco licence holder was informed that they breached the tobacco legislation and that in future they risk being issued a penalty of $1000,” they said.
A sting conducted on 72 retailers as a follow up to the survey caught 14 selling cigarettes to minors.
The spokesperson said while the 2017 results show strong improvements in levels of compliance, new priority areas for future education and targeting were identified to reduce the number of children who are able to purchase cigarettes.
“Two priority areas were identified including the training and supervision of younger sales staff and encouraging all sales staff to ID check customers who look under the age of 25,” they said.
The maximum penalty for an individual who sells tobacco to a minor is $10,000 for a first offence and $20,000 for a subsequent offence. For a body corporate, the penalties are $40,000 and $80,000 respectively.
The children had parent consent and were selected through a recruitment agency for the survey and paid according to a scale of pay calculated by the agency.