AN OSWESTRY trader is under investigation by Shropshire Council after being caught selling cigarettes to school children on a regular basis.
Shropshire Council, who have not named the shop or the 53-year-old man concerned, announced it had received a number of complaints about his actions before launching its own operation to catch him in the act.
Two 14-year-old female volunteers, both dressed in their school clothing and acting as part of an operation led by the council's public protection officer were sold cigarettes on a number of occasions following the complaints which included those from members of the community and West Mercia Police.
Tony Coffey, the public protection officer who led the operation said: "Despite the trader being fully advised about the law and his obligations following earlier complaints, we continued to receive information that youngsters were buying cigarettes from the trader.
“There was no apparent consideration of their age. It was clear that enforcement action was necessary.”
Mr Coffey explained that the trader in question even sold a small quantity of single cigarettes for 40p each which he described as “very worrying and also against the law.”
Shropshire Council service manager for safer and stronger communities in public protection and enforcement, Frances Darling, confirmed that the trader has already been interviewed in connection with the sales said: “Traders that choose to ignore consumer protection laws, particularly those that affect the health and well-being of our children, can expect to be investigated and potentially prosecuted for their actions.”
Steve Charmley, the council's Cabinet member with responsibility for public protection said: “I would strongly urge traders to adopt a 'Challenge 25' approach to age-restricted sales to avoid making any mistakes.”
Traders who want advice and guidance on understanding the law and applying it can contact Shropshire Council's business support and locality working team within public protection and enforcement on 0345 678 9000.