HC Deb 19 March 1998 vol 308 c681W
Mr. Llwyd

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to prevent the sale of tobacco to those aged under 16 years. [34620]

Mr. Michael

The Government are keen to protect children from the dangers of smoking. A White Paper on tobacco control will be published later this year by the Department of Health, setting out a comprehensive strategy to tackle smoking, particularly among young people.

It is illegal to sell tobacco to a person under the age of 16, whether or not he or she appears to be so. The Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991 places the responsibility on the retailer to take steps to ensure that the individual is aged 16 or over before the sale is made. If in doubt, the retailer should ask for identification. Guidelines were issued to local authorities in 1992 on the application of the Act, including particular types of enforcement activity. Local authority enforcement of the Act is the responsibility of local trading standards officers.

We are monitoring the effectiveness of the Act. In 1996 (the latest year for which figures are available) there were 140 prosecutions of individuals and companies, 119 of which resulted in findings of guilt.