Record number of Auckland shops caught selling cigarettes to teenagers

April has seen the highest ever number of retailers caught illegally selling tobacco to teenagers in Auckland.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) reported that nine retailers in a two-week period failed to ask for IDs of people who looked under 25, a record high for the service.

Dean Adam, the Health Improvement Manager for ARPHS, said in a statement that his organisation has observed over three retailers per month breaking the law since July 2018.

"Retailers must ask for ID from anyone buying tobacco who looks under 25, but since July last year we’ve identified 29 outlets that have failed to comply with that law."

While most of the retailers identified by ARPHS were in the Auckland CBD, three were caught in East Auckland and 17 in South Auckland.

Adam says that liberal laws around the selling of tobacco have led to a glut of retailers, which makes it harder for young people to avoid it.

"There is no tobacco licencing scheme in New Zealand, meaning there are no restrictions on who is allowed to sell tobacco and where they can sell it. Tobacco has become as readily available as milk and bread," Adam said.

"Cigarettes need to be less readily available to young people in these areas, not more so."

Retailers caught selling tobacco to minors face penalties including criminal convictions and fines ranging from $500 to $10,000. The fine must be paid by the individual who made the illegal sale.