Press Release Issued By
Durham County Council




(17th January 2001)

The majority of traders in County Durham are acting responsibly and don’t sell items such as cigarettes and fireworks to children.

But Durham County Council’s Consumer Services Division is continuing to be vigilant and is warning that retailers who do flout the law will be found out and prosecuted.

Over the past 12 months, officers from Durham County Council’s Consumer Services Division have visited retailers in the County to ensure traders are complying with their legal obligations in respect of certain products.

Cigarettes, fireworks, butane lighter refills, solvents and videos are all subject to legal controls which determine the age limit at which they can be purchased by young people.

Undercover officers undertake a number of surveys during the course of the year using a young volunteer who seeks to make a purchase of the controlled product.

During the course of the last year, only two illegal sales of cigarettes and one sale of an 18-certificate video to a 14-year-old have been detected.

These traders were reported and considered for prosecution. Traders who flout the law face prosecution and fines of up to 5,000 and six months imprisonment, if convicted.

Phillip Holman, Head of Consumer Services, said: "Although these figures are encouraging, there are still retailers who are prepared to flout the law to make a profit."

Councillor Don Ross, Cabinet member for Durham County Council, said: "It is important that young people are protected until they are old enough to make an informed choice about issues which may affect their long term health."

Anyone who suspects that a trader is breaking the law should contact Durham County Council Consumer Services on 0191 383 3589.

Any young people aged between 12 and 14 who are interested in assisting Consumer Services in their test purchase activities, should ask their parents to contact Craig Hudson on 0191 383 3707.



Note to Editors

For further information contact Phillip Holman, Head of Consumer Services, on 0191 383 3391 or Peter Fleming, Divisional Manager, on 0191 383 3584.