A compliance programme to reduce youth access to tobacco rolls out across Scotland this month and will see 480 retailers visited – around one-tenth of all independent stores north of the border.
As part of the Responsible Tobacco Retailing programme, independent retailers will be mystery shopped to see if they are ‘at risk’ of potentially selling tobacco products to people under the age of 18, and will be offered free training support if they are. The accredited training is designed to cover all age-restricted products, not just tobacco, and can count towards a Level 2 NVQ in preventing under age sales.
The Responsible Tobacco Retailing programme was launched in March 2015 by JTI, Philip Morris and Imperial Tobacco. It follows successful pilot schemes in England and Wales. A 19.6% improvement in performance from retailers was recorded during the first year of the programme.
Tony Allen, Managing Director of Under Age Sales, which specialises in helping retailers prevent under age sales, said of the new compliance scheme: “First and foremost, the purpose of the Responsible Tobacco Retailing programme is to reduce youth access to tobacco, an issue which all involved parties are in agreement must be tackled. We are by no means trying to catch retailers out with the test purchases; far from it – we simply want to identify those that may be at risk of selling tobacco to children and help them take the necessary steps to protect themselves.
“By empowering and enabling retailers to meet their obligations and become gatekeepers to stop under 18s accessing tobacco, we can all work together to raise standards across the board and make a real difference to communities.”
Paul Baxter, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, added: “NFRN members make every effort to retail responsibly but it’s not easy for shopkeepers to judge the ages of people coming into their stores, so making sure you stay within the law when it comes to underage sales is a constant challenge. We therefore welcome this new initiative and would encourage any retailer who is identified as at risk to take advantage of the free-of-charge training.”