A joint investigation conducted by the City of Casey, Cardinia Shire and Bass Coast Shire Council found 22 per cent of tobacco retailers are selling cigarettes to people under the age of 18.
Conducted in December 2022, the investigation visited 72 tobacco retailers across Casey, Cardinia and Bass Coast and found an increase in the sale of cigarettes to people under the age of 18 compared to the previous five years.
Funded by the Victorian Department of Health, these routine investigations enable Council’s Environmental Health Officers proactively visit tobacco retailers to educate them on their obligations when selling tobacco in Victoria and ensure they are complying with the Tobacco Act 1987.
Test purchasing with a person under the age of 18 is also undertaken at selected premises to ensure compliance with the Act.
With eight out of ten new smokers starting to smoke before the age of 18, City of Casey Chair of Administrators Noelene Duff PSM noted the importance of these investigations.
“Research shows us that smokers are fifteen times more likely to die of lung cancer than non-smokers, and these investigations allow us to ensure retailers are doing their due diligence whilst selling cigarettes,” said Ms Duff.
“We were pleased to find that 56 retailers approached during the program did not sell cigarettes to a minor and were compliant with the Act.”
Retailers and persons selling tobacco to a minor who are found to be breaking the law can receive infringements of up to $11,095 and/or prosecution in court with penalties of up to $110,952 and and they can also lose the right to sell tobacco.
Tobacco retailers are encouraged to review the tobacco retailer’s guide and resources available on the Department of Health’s tobacco reform website to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities when selling tobacco in Victoria.
Residents concerned about retailers selling cigarettes to people under the age of 18 are encouraged to contact council or the Department of Health Tobacco Information Line on 1300 136 775.