Anyone caught can be fined up to £5000 and end up with a criminal record
A major campaign to crackdown on the purchase of tobacco for underage children is now underway across South Ayrshire. The practice, known as 'proxy purchasing' is a criminal offence with any adults flaunting the law in line to face a hefty fine.
53% of 15 year olds in Scotland have persuaded someone else to buy them cigarettes from shops in 2015 according to the latest SALSUS smoking report.* To help raise awareness about the issue South Ayrshire Council is working with NHS Ayrshire & Arran to promote a zero tolerance message to retailers and the wider public that buying tobacco for underage smokers is against the law and for suspected cases to be reported.
Councillor John McDowall, South Ayrshire Council's Portfolio Holder for Sustainability and Environment, said there was no excuse for turning a blind eye, "We want to send a clear message that not only is it irresponsible to buy cigarettes for youngsters in terms of their health but, in doing so an adult is committing a serious offence.
"As part of our campaign our officers are encouraging tobacco retailers to train their staff to be aware of the issue of proxy purchases and to refuse cigarette sales which they suspect might end up in the hands of children."
"If caught, people can be fined up to £5000 and end up with a criminal record, so we would urge members of the public or retail staff who witness or suspect activity of this nature to report it as soon as possible."
Dr Carol Davidson, NHS Ayrshire & Arran's Director of Public Health, said, "Preventing young people from accessing cigarettes is extremely important in stopping young people from becoming adult smokers.
"Proxy purchase is not a harmless act and by raising awareness of the problem we will help to reduce the numbers of young people who smoke and improve their long term health."
Anyone with information or suspicions of adults buying cigarettes for under 18s should contact South Ayrshire Council's Trading Standards Service via the Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 0900.
*SALSUS smoking report for 2015 is available here.