Every Suffolk venue fails cigarette test

EVERY Suffolk venue probed in an undercover sting on cigarette vending machines was found to be breaking the law.

In the Trading Standards-backed investigation, underage volunteers attempted to buy cigarettes from vending machines across the region.

All 20 venues targeted in Suffolk failed to challenge the children, while the story was little better in Essex, which racked up a 75% failure rate. In Norfolk 14 out of 15 venues failed the test.

Tracey Chapman, cabinet member with responsibility for trading standards at Essex County Council, said: “Trading Standards will come down hard on any retailers who do not abide by the law when selling age-restricted products.

“By conducting regular test purchases using underage young people, the team are able to closely monitor businesses.

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“I would encourage all retailers selling goods that have an age restriction to join our Challenge 25 scheme.”

Overall across the East of England, 74% of 104 outlets did not come up to scratch.

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But Trading Standards said of the machines that ‘passed’ the test, some were empty, broken or switched off.

It said on only a handful of occasions was the correct procedure carried out of challenging the volunteer about their age.

David Collinson, chairman of the East of England Trading Standards Association, said: “Our exercise has revealed some disappointing results. It would appear that many venues with cigarette vending machines are not taking their responsibilities seriously.

“Trading Standards would advise any premises to make sure that cigarette vending machines are appropriately situated and supervised at all times.

“Staff should take the same measures they would adopt if the young person were purchasing alcohol. Any underage sales of cigarettes that take place in licensed premises can affect their alcohol licence.”

Members of the public can report premises which allow age-restricted products to be sold to underage customers by calling Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.

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