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Over 300 retailers targeted in sting operations to see if they're selling cigarettes to under 18s

The HSE figures relate to the first three quarters of last year.

Image: Shutterstock/Photographee.eu

A TOTAL OF 306 retailers around the country were targeted in sting sales operations in the first nine months of last year to see if they were selling cigarettes to minors.

The ‘test’ tobacco sales to minors are carried out by the Health Service Executive (HSE) every year.

In Ireland, it is illegal to sell cigarettes to someone under the age of 18.

The HSE carries out ‘test’ cases on retailers, such as supermarkets and newsagents, throughout the year in order to inspect the law is being adhered to. For the first three quarters of 2017, there were eight convictions for breaching the law.

The fines imposed ranged from €400 to €2000, with some sellers being barred from selling tobacco products for a period of one or two days.

In 2016 the HSE Tobacco Control Inspection Programme carried out 540 test purchases of tobacco products to minors, of which 472 retailers were compliant, representing 87% compliance.

The test cases resulted in 35 convictions.

One case in 2016 resulted in Tesco Ireland having to donate €1,000 to a court poor-box to avoid a three-day ban on selling tobacco products after a 17-year-old test purchaser managed to buy a pack of cigarettes.

A recent European School Study showed that the number of schoolchildren smoking decreased in almost all countries surveyed, including Ireland, in the past 20 years.

It found that more boys than girls smoke in Ireland.

In Ireland, smoking is the leading cause of avoidable death. Nearly 5,500 people die in Ireland each year from the effects of smoking and thousands of others are ill because of smoking-related diseases.

The Irish Cancer Society’s We Can Quit programme has been launched this month to help people give up smoking in 2018. The 12 week programme is a free and offers free nicotine replacement therapy, a weekly smoking cessation group and one to one support.

It has been rolled out in several locations across North and South Dublin and Cork. Communities include Blanchardstown, Coolock, balbriggan, Swords, Tallaght, Rialto, Mallow, Ballyphehane and Mayfield.

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