Algoma Public Health routinely checks stores who sell cigarettes and tobacco products. Selling tobacco to youth under the age of 19 is prohibited under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. Tobacco retailers, in addition to being responsible for their own actions are responsible for the actions of their employees to ensure they comply with the requirements under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.
For the first half of 2015 we had a 97% compliance rate across the district of Algoma. Of the 97 stores that sell tobacco, 3 charges were laid against employees for selling tobacco to youth under the age of 19.
“These checks are conducted regularly throughout the year” says Algoma Public Health tobacco control enforcement officer Allen Look. “For the most part we are pleased with the results but our goal is to have 100% of our tobacco retailers and their staff not selling tobacco to youth.”
During the first half of 2014 compliance rates were the same but checks in the second half of last year saw a spike in illegal sales with 8 stores (out of 111) having employees charged.
“Before selling tobacco to any person who appears to be less than 25 years of age, a retailer must request identification and be satisfied that the person is at least 19 years old,” explains Look. “Acceptable identification must include a photograph of the person accompanied by the person’s date of birth and it must reasonably appear to have been issued by a government.”
Fines for retailers can be as high as $10,000 for a first offence and $150,000 for three or more offences. For retailer staff who sell tobacco to a minor the maximum fine under the legislation is $4,000 for a first offence and up to $100,000 for three offences or more.
Retailers with two or more convictions for tobacco sales offences in a specific location within a 5 year period may be given an automatic prohibition. This means they cannot sell or store any tobacco and no wholesaler or distributor may deliver tobacco to that them for anywhere from six to 12 months.
Learn more about the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. For information or support to quit smoking call Algoma Public Health at 705-942-4646 and ask to speak with a smoking cessation counsellor.