Retailer Tobacco Compliance For Period 2018-2021

HSE publishes details of high levels of retailer tobacco compliance for period 2018-2021. As part of the annual HSC Tobacco Free Ireland State of Tobacco Control report the following statistics were provided.

There were 1112 test purchase inspections, 942 of these were deemed to be “satisfactory“ in other words a sale was not made to a minor this represents an 85% compliance level.

There were also details of 236 prosecutions that were taken by the EHS for varying alleged breaches of the tobacco laws, this led to 104 convictions:

  • 74 Struck Out
  • 28 Probation Act
  • 13 Dismissed
  • 7 Struck Out, Costs awarded
  • 6 Taken into account
  • 4 Notice/Order withdrawn.

As previously noted, the test purchases led to 170 “unsatisfactory ” outcomes. Despite this, the EHS , assisted by their law agents, only managed to secure convictions in 44 of these cases, the others were either the subject of warnings from the Environmental Health Office or were unsuccessful in a prosecution .

There are 12,474 retail outlets according to the HSE EHS, the vast majority open practically all year round, the level of compliance is very substantial and is a credit to all retailers and their staff.

Of the 44 convictions for sales to minors, more than half ( 23) were noted as being sales from vending machines; retailers are not permitted to have self-service vending machines, so these convictions relate to licenced premises, hotels, and nightclubs.

Whilst every conviction is one too many, we must be very satisfied that in the 4-year period 2018-2021 there were only 21 cases of sales to minors from the 7,830 retail outlets registered to sell tobacco products.

We note these official statistics because, as members are aware, the passage of the Public Health ( Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill 2019 is expected to come before the Oireachtas later this year.

There are significantly increased penalties, minimum suspension periods from 7 days to 12 months and a range of Fixed Notice Penalties ( on the spot fines) contained within the Bill.

The Association will continue to monitor and help and advice to all tobacco retailers wishing to sell in a compliant fashion.