Bexleyheath newsagent fined for selling cigarettes to under-age boy

PUBLISHED: 09:29 02 February 2015 | UPDATED: 09:29 02 February 2015




Teen sold ten cigarettes during Trading Standards purchase test

SELLING 10 cigarettes to a 15-year-old boy has cost a Bexleyheath newsagent £305 and a member of his staff £245.

The case against Mr Sellathurai Sivanesasuntharam of Fairlands Avenue, Thornton Heath, the proprietor of Hari newsagents of Midhurst Hill, Bexleyheath, and Miss Maliny Verasingam an assistant working in the shop of Walmear Terrace, Woolwich, was heard at Bexleyheath Magistrates’ Court last week (January 26).

The court was told that on June 26, 2014, a 15-year-old boy was sent to the premises by one of Bexley’s Trading Standards Officers to carry out a test purchase by trying to buy cigarettes.

Magistrates’ heard that the premises displayed two notices aimed at deterring under-age sales. One was the statutory notice stating ‘It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18’. The other was a notice on the door regarding the minimum legal age for sales of tobacco, alcohol, solvents and knives being 18 years. This notice included the words ‘No ID No sale’.

The boy asked for 10 Marlboro Red cigarettes but, as none were available, he was sold Marlboro Gold instead.

The Trading Standards officer then went to the shop with the cigarettes and a photo of the 15-year-old and asked the shop assistant about the sale. She gave her name as Maliny Verasingam and said that she was aware that it was an offence to sell cigarettes to anyone under 18, but that she had thought the boy was over 18. She said that she had not been told by Mr Sivanesasuntharam to ask anyone who looked under 25 to produce proof of their age.

Mr Sivanesasuntharam and Miss Verasingam pleaded guilty to the under-age sale offence. Miss Verasingam apologised to the court and said that she made a mistake. Mr Sivanesasuntharam said that he was not in the shop much as he had been recovering from a heart bypass operation.

The court fined Mr Sivanesasuntharam £135, costs of £150 and a £20 victim surcharge. It fined Miss Verasingam £75, costs of £150 and a £20 victim surcharge.

After the case Cllr Alex Sawyer, Bexley’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Leisure said: “Bexley Trading Standards regularly sends children well under the age of 18 into shops selling cigarettes to see if they are obeying the legal requirement not to sell them to anyone under 18.

“This case shows a blatant breach of legislation. The defendant sold cigarettes to a person who couldn’t produce ID when challenged about his age.

“Smoking is a known health hazard and the law is there to protect children from it.”

Although Challenge 25 is not compulsory, Bexley Trading Standards strongly advises retailers to adopt the scheme. Requiring customers who look under 25 to prove they are over 18 goes a long way in helping to avoid making under-age sales.

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