Eight Bay retailers sold tobacco to an underage person during a recent operation conducted by Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service
Another 46 shopkeepers complied with the law by asking the underage teenager for their proof of age and refusing to sell tobacco to them.
The worst result was in Opotiki where three out of seven shops visited sold tobacco to the underage teenager, Dr Phil Shoemack, medical officer of health for Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service said.
"I am very disappointed that across the Eastern Bay there was a total of eight sales of tobacco to an underage teenager. There is clearly much room for improvement. It's against the law. No one should be selling tobacco to anyone under the age of 18."
A Controlled Purchase Operation involved an underage person asking to buy tobacco from retailers under controlled conditions.
The purpose of the operation was to reduce the impact of tobacco related harm, especially in young people, by checking retailers' understanding and adherence to tobacco legislation.
This included not selling to anyone who was under 18 years of age.
Prior to the operation, visits were made to tobacco retailers reminding them of their responsibilities under the Smokefree Environments Act 1990. This legislation prohibited the sale of tobacco to a person under the age of 18 years and also banned smoking in enclosed areas of workplaces, hospitality venues and public buildings.
"It is pleasing to see that the majority of the tobacco retailers visited are meeting their legal responsibilities and refusing to sell to children," Dr Shoemack said.
"The retailers that sold tobacco to someone underage have each been fined $500. This should serve as a caution that Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service takes the matter seriously and we run regular checks across the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts."
To find out more about tobacco legislation or to make an enquiry, visit www.ttophs.govt.nz/tobacco for more information.