Selling cigarettes to minors has led to two Napier retailers being fined $500 each.

Essentials Ltd on Hastings St and Shakespeare Road Mini Market were caught in a controlled purchase operation during the just completed school holidays.

HBDHB Director of Population Health Caroline McElnay said 35 retailers were checked in Napier, Hastings and Havelock North, and it was disappointing to find two not taking their responsibilities seriously.

"Hawke’s Bay is in the unenviable position of second when it comes to regular youth smoking within New Zealand’s 20 DHBs, and we are determined to improve that situation.

"Preventing the uptake of smoking by minors is an important focus in achieving a Smokefree New Zealand by 2025.

"We will continue controlled purchase operations, so employers should ensure that they and their staff understand their obligations under the Smokefree Environments Act."

Recent statistics suggest that cigarette purchases by 14-15 year-old New Zealanders are predominantly made at dairies.

Tobacco Controlled Purchase Operations are held to monitor the level of compliance by tobacco retailers with the Smokefree Environments Act requirement that no tobacco products be sold to any person under 18. Any breaches of this act can result in an instant fine of up to $1000.

HBDHB are currently working with the Hawke’s Bay Smokefree Coalition on a new project to encourage retailers in the province to stop selling tobacco. If you are a retailer and are interested in becoming tobacco free contact Michele Grigg on 06 834 1815 for further information.

"Fewer tobacco retailers means children and young people are less likely to take up smoking, more people will become and stay smokefree, and the availability and visibility of tobacco in our communities will reduce," Dr McElnay said. "Being able to buy tobacco ‘anywhere, anytime’ makes it harder for people who want to stay smokefree. For some smokers, just the sight of a retail outlet prompts them to think about smoking or buying tobacco."

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