Jim McGinty

Jim McGinty

Attorney General; Minister for Health; Electoral Affairs

    Butts kicked if shops caught selling cigarettes to kids

    10/06/2005 12:00 AM

    New laws will give health officials the power to conduct undercover ‘stings’ on retailers to determine if cigarettes are being sold to children.

    Health Minister Jim McGinty said he was appalled at the ease with which children could buy cigarettes and was determined to crack down on retailers that broke the law.

    He said recent Department of Health tobacco retailer compliance surveys in regional areas found that every shop selling tobacco products in four South-West towns sold cigarettes to children.

    The survey also found that children were able to buy cigarettes at 88 per cent of retailers in Augusta, 79 per cent in Esperance, 77 per cent in Manjimup and 66 per cent in Margaret River.

    A survey of 490 shops stocking tobacco products in Perth last year found that 53 per cent sold cigarettes to children.

    “It is a disgrace that so many retailers are prepared to sell cigarettes to young kids,” Mr McGinty said.

    “Even though it is illegal to sell cigarettes to children, the existing laws make it difficult to prosecute when Department of Health compliance surveys catch retailers out.

    “We are serious about preventing children from smoking for no other reason than smoking kills.”

    The Tobacco Products Control Bill 2005 will enable health officers to set up controlled purchase operations to ensure retailers are not selling cigarettes to children.

    The undercover operations will see children supervised by a health official purchase or attempt to purchase cigarettes from retail outlets.

    Mr McGinty said the new laws would double the penalties for individuals and retailers caught selling tobacco products to children.

    Individuals would face a fine of $10,000 for the first offence (up from $5,000) and $20,000 for subsequent offences (up from $10,000).

    For a retail outlet, body corporate or company, the fines would be increased to $40,000 for the first offence (from $20,000) and $80,000 for subsequent offences (from $40,000).

    Shops that break the law could also be banned from selling cigarettes under a proposed licensing system similar to schemes in the ACT, South Australia and Tasmania.

    Mr McGinty said retailers and wholesalers in Western Australia would be issued with a licence to sell tobacco products and could lose their licence if they broke new laws relating to the sale, supply and display of tobacco products.

    The licence would initially cost approximately $200 and then $100 a year to renew.

    "We make no apologies for our tough stance on smoking," Mr McGinty said.

    "We don't want retailers selling cigarettes to children. If they do, they face a hefty fine and could be banned from selling tobacco products full stop."

    Other provisions in the Tobacco Products Control Bill 2005 include:
    • requiring retailers to check for ID when selling tobacco products;
    • restricting the sale of tobacco papers, pipes and other smoking implements to people over 18;
    • banning point of sale advertising and limiting displays of tobacco products to one square metre;
    • restricting cigarette vending machines to licensed premises only;
    • prohibiting hawkers of tobacco products;
    • banning the advertising of price discounting on tobacco products;
    • regulating the sale and promotion of herbal cigarettes and prohibiting the sale of confectionary and toys that resemble cigarettes; and
    • introducing substantial penalties for false or misleading statements by tobacco companies or others on health effects or harm caused by tobacco.
    The laws to crackdown on the sale of cigarettes to children follow new restrictions in pubs and clubs that will see a total ban on smoking by July 2006.

    Mr McGinty said the Tobacco Products Control Bill 2005 would be introduced into State Parliament later this month.

    Minister's Office - 9220 5000