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Tuesday February 26th, 2013

Posted at 10:00am

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Statistics provided by the Health Unit

Over the past six years, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has used enforcement to decrease the number of tobacco vendors selling cigarettes to minors and the Health Unit is seeing some results.

“Although we have seen an improvement from 2011 to 2012, any level of non-compliance is unacceptable,” says Dr. Gary Kirk, Associate Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer, WECHU.

“Eliminating the sale of cigarettes to anyone under 19 years of age is a key component in reducing tobacco use amongst youth. If they can’t buy it, they are more likely not to use it.”

The Health Units enforces the laws against the sale of tobacco to minors through a Tobacco Test Shopping Program where underage teen test shoppers, under the supervision of WECHU Tobacco Enforcement Officers, visit each tobacco retailer in the community many times per year and make an attempt to buy cigarettes. If a sale is made, the tobacco vendor is charged.

The Health Unit says the charges are very serious offences. Tobacco retailers convicted of two tobacco-related offences may be subject to a six month prohibition from storing or selling tobacco products.

After seeing an unusually high increase in the number of sales to minors during the first quarter of 2011, The Health Unit enhanced its Test Shopper Program by offering a Tobacco Vendor Education Program. Under the program, a Health Unit representative contacts the owner or manager at an offending facility to offer an educational session for all sales staff. The session provides an overview of tobacco retailer requirements under the Act and allows vendors to ask questions and receive suggestions on how to best ensure that their facility doesn’t re-offend.

The Health Unit hopes to continue to decrease the sale of tobacco to minors through their programs and reminds the public that they provide valuable information on smoking cessation programs, and answer tobacco-related questions. Just give them a call at 519-258-2146 ex 3100.

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