Four caught in council operation

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FOUR Wallsend businesses are facing potential prosecutions and fines after being caught selling cigarettes to underage teenagers.

North Tyneside Council’s trading standards team carried out two test purchase operations with a 15-year-old volunteer.

The girl visited a total of 17 premises with four – Daniel News, Best One, and J A Supermarket, all High Street East; and Loco, Archer Villas – selling her cigarettes without challenging her age.

Investigations are continuing into the offences, which could lead to a prosecution and fines of up to £2,500.

Now the council is reminding retailers of their responsibility not to sell cigarettes to underage youngsters.

Coun George Westwater, cabinet member for community and regulatory services, said: “The health and well-being of young people is really important – it’s vital they get the best start in life.

“It makes it all the more disappointing that some retailers are still not ensuring their customers are old enough to buy cigarettes.

Marietta Evans, director of public health for North Tyneside, said: “Every year in North Tyneside smoking kills around 320 people and costs the NHS over £9m a year.

“Most regular smokers start well before the age of 18, therefore it is essential that we work hard to help adults quit and stop young people taking up smoking in the first place.”

Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “I’m really saddened to see shops still selling cigarettes to children but it highlights the important role of trading standards in preventing under age sales.

“Children’s health is frequently harmed by legal tobacco as well as illegal cigarettes.”