Just one retailer was netted in three tobacco controlled purchase operations in Hawke's Bay in the past two months.
The single illegal sale was made by a staff member at Z Energy in Wairoa, where the employee was later issued with a $500 infringement fee.
The Hawke's Bay District Health Board said Z Energy proved it had an adequate staff training programme, and that the employee had gone through the training, so no fine was issued.
The board's director of population health, Caroline McElnay, said with 63 premises visited, overall compliance was at a high level - 16 retailers in Central Hawke's Bay and Flaxmere were approached in November, and a further 30 in Napier and Hastings in December, which were "without blemish".
"While a Z Energy staff member failed to not sell tobacco to minors during the Wairoa visits this month, a further 16 retailers did not," Dr McElnay said. "We have been told the owners of the Z Station are concerned about the breach and have since been proactive in ensuring all the station's staff are aware of the law. We applaud that attitude.
"Within New Zealand's 20 DHBs, Hawke's Bay is in the unenviable position of second when it comes to regular youth smoking and we are determined to improve that situation.
"Preventing the uptake of smoking by minors is an important focus in achieving a Smokefree New Zealand by 2025. Therefore we will continue controlled purchase operations, so employers should ensure that they and their staff understand their obligations under the Smokefree Environments Act."
The Smokefree Environments Act requires that no tobacco products be sold to any person under the age of 18. Instant fines of up to $1000 can be issued. Dr McElnay said she was hopeful more retailers would cease selling tobacco products. "The DHB is currently working with Hawke's Bay Smokefree Coalition on a project to encourage retailers in the province to stop selling tobacco. Fewer retailers selling means children and youth are less likely to take up smoking, more people will become and stay smokefree, and the availability and visibility of tobacco in our communities will reduce."
- Retailers interested in becoming tobacco free can contact Michele Grigg on 06 8341815 extension 4297.