ANGUS trading standards will carry out test purchases and work with revenue and customs to crack down on tobacco sales to children and the sale of illegal tobacco.
The moves are part of a co-ordinated programme of action discussed at Angus Council’s infrastructure services committee meeting on Tuesday.
It was put forward in a report by infrastructure services director Eric Lowson to help the authority comply with the new Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010 which will be in force from the beginning of next month.
The new law is aimed at better protecting young people from exposure to tobacco and will replace the Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991.
Substantial changes will be brought in with the new legislation including the creation of a compulsory registration scheme for tobacco retailers; the introduction of an offence for an under age person to attempt to buy tobacco; creating an offence for anyone buying tobacco to pass on to an under age person; banning the use of vending machines for tobacco sales and removing all point of sale tobacco advertising by banning the display of products to the public, which will be phased in between 2011 and 2013.
Mr Lowson said: “The cost to the country as a result of tobacco use is significant in terms of premature death, illness, hospital care and lost productivity. This disproportionately affects those disadvantaged by poverty.
“Rigorous enforcement of the various laws that apply to the legitimate tobacco market, whether that is underage sales or the marketing and advertisement of tobacco products, is seen as an important element of reducing the availability and desirability of tobacco to children and young persons. A partnership with HMRC to counteract the illicit sale of smuggled and counterfeit tobacco is equally regarded as important to ensure that the illicit supply of tobacco products is addressed and the public purse protected.”
The action plan includes making advisory visits to at least 20 per cent of the county’s tobacco retailers, carrying out test purchases from at least 10 per cent of retailers and contacting HMRC to target the trade in smuggled and fake products.